Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Indian Air Force Gets Full Access to Gripen Demonstrator


AWIN First Mar 10 , 2010
Neelam Mathews
New Delhi

Even as trials for India’s 126 Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) come close to a finish, the drama continues. The Gripen IN, Saab’s Indian variant of the next-generation fighter, recently made an appearance in Bangalore, Jaisalmer and Leh for trials – but in the form of two twin-seat Gripen Ds.

“The situation is not ideal” without the NG demonstrator itself, admits Eddy de la Motte, director India Gripen. “The Swedish certification agency SMV did not approve the demonstrator to fly to India as additional tasking is being done within the Swedish program,” he told Aviation Week.

Still, with the Gripen NG a development program, executives say the base has always been the Gripen D along with simulators, avionics rigs and the demonstrator. And de la Motte stresses that local officials will have “full” access to the demonstrators. “We are in discussions with the Indian authorities and are looking forward to the evaluation and showing our maximum capability.”

While the evaluation is based on the Gripen demonstrator and its NG capability, there are many similarities the NG shares with Gripen C/Ds, de la Motte stresses. The range, however, is different.

The demo aircraft is a new test flying platform for the next generation of Gripen, designed to offer modern capability beyond 2040. It includes the Gripen Avionics Rig, new features such as the General Electric F414G Turbofan engine with increased thrust, increased fuel capacity for extended range, improved landing gear, increased weapons and stores capabilities, advanced communications, and, of course, defensive systems.

During evaluation in Sweden, the Indian air force checked out the active electronically scanned array (AESA) on the demonstrator, saw all NG capabilities on simulators and certain demonstrations of the avionics rigs with other European vendors. Weapons testing has already been carried out in Sweden and will happen again later in April. “The MBDA Meteor air-to-air missile will be ready on time of delivery,” de la Motte further notes.

Gripen is the first and so far only next-generation fighter aircraft to launch the Meteor.

Saab and Selex Galileo are jointly developing an AESA radar for the Gripen NG. The system will be based on Selex’s Vixen AESA and use components from the Gripen’s PS-05/A and other programs from both companies. Last fall, the Gripen NG Demonstrator started flight testing again following a modification that included installation of an AESA.

Initial weapons to be delivered with the flyaway aircraft include active beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles, antiship missiles with 100-km. (62-mi.) range, air-to-ground and medium-range missiles (with a range of more than 200 km.), and standoff precision-guided munitions (40-km. range).

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