Leonardo on-board as the Saab Gripen-E takes to the skies

03 July 2017

On a bright summer's morning in Linköping, Sweden, the Saab Gripen E successfully completed its first flight with avionics systems on-board designed and built in the UK by Leonardo. 

Saab’s next generation smart fighter took off just after 1030 on Thursday 15 June, piloted by Experimental Test Pilot, Marcus Wand. It carried out a number of manoeuvres to demonstrate various test criteria, before safely returning to airfield 40 minutes later.

Based on the proven Gripen C/D platform, the Gripen E is one of the most advanced multi-role fighters in the world, designed to adapt to changing threats and operational requirements facing modern air forces.

Long-term relationship with Saab

Leonardo’s participation in the Gripen E programme dates back to 2009 when an agreement was signed for the development of the Raven ES AESA radar. Designed in close collaboration with Saab at the company’s Edinburgh site, the RAVEN ES-05 features an innovative roll-repositionable AESA antenna which offers pilots superior situational awareness.

The aircraft is also equipped with Leonardo’s Skyward-G IRST (Infra-Red Search and Track) passive sensor and IFF (Identification Friend-or-Foe) avionics systems, the combination of which vastly improves platform survivability.

Extending the Gripen's protection

To further protect the aircraft, Leonardo’s BriteCloud Expendable Active Decoy (developed in Luton) is now an optional electronic warfare enhancement available for both the Gripen C/D and Gripen E aircraft.

Leonardo’s contribution to the Saab Gripen-E programme (alongside that to the Eurofighter Typhoon – for which the company also provides over 60% of the avionics), confirms the company as one of the leading avionics partners for the world’s next generation, swing role fighter aircraft.

Speaking after the Gripen-E’s maiden flight, Jonas Hjelm, Senior Vice President and Head of Saab Business Area Aeronautics, commented: "Today we have flown this world class fighter aircraft for the first time. We achieved it with the fully qualified software for the revolutionary avionics system. This is about giving our customers a smart fighter system with the future designed in from the start."