SAAB Gripen E fires a Meteor missile for the first time

The Meteor missile was launched from a Gripen E fighter at an altitude of approximately 16,500 feet (about 5,000 m) above the Vidsel test site in northern Sweden. The Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) successfully reached its target.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The Swedish Gripen E fighter conducted the first test firing of the Meteor air-to-air missile, informs a release from Saab.

As per the release, Saab has performed the first test fire of the advanced Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) on Gripen E, achieving a successful end-to-end target outcome.

The Meteor missile was launched from a Gripen E fighter at an altitude of approximately 16,500 feet (about 5,000 m) above the Vidsel test site in northern Sweden.

The Gripen E flight test program is focused on developing and testing primarily tactical systems and integrating various aviation weapons, such as Meteor air-to-air missiles.

Meteor Missile 

The Meteor missile, designed by MBDA, is considered to be the most modern Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missile in the world. It presently boasts the widest No Escape Zone (NEZ) among missiles of its class, which means that after being tracked and locked on, the missile leaves very little room for any target to escape. The Meteor’s two-way data link, in turn, enables the pilot to redirect it even after it has been launched.

A Meteor missile is guided by an advanced active radar seeker and has its own engine, which can reduce thrust to save fuel or reach speeds of up to Mach 4 in order to save fuel. Unlike rocket-powered missiles, the Meteor saves enough energy to be able to accelerate when close to its target and maximize its manoeuvrability. It is highly capable against both advanced jets and small targets such as UAVs and cruise missiles. Additionally, the Meteor is a complete munition that requires no assembly or maintenance immediately prior to loading, reducing the logistics support costs. The Gripen E is capable of carrying up to seven Meteor missiles.

Gripen-E Aircraft

Gripen E refers to a series of aircraft that includes two programme variants informally known as Gripen Next Generation (NG), namely the single-seat Gripen E and the two-seat Gripen F. However, the official name by Saab for the series is simply Gripen E to refer to both.

This is the most recent iteration of the aircraft, and it boasts several improvements over its predecessor, the Gripen C. Some of them are structural and design enhancements, while others are introducing new systems and technology typical of aircraft of the most recent generation, which gives it an advantage over other combat aircraft.

The Gripen E has a new integrated modular avionics system with increased processing capacity and significant development potential, thanks to the use of functional partitioning and advanced coding techniques that allow for the rapid introduction of new system apps, which improves performance by days while ensuring operational relevance throughout the lifecycle.

The cockpit of the plane has a new low panoramic display (WAD), which, when combined with an advanced Head-Up Display (HUD) and a display system for the pilot’s helmet (HDM) that works with night vision goggles (NVG), gives the pilot a lot of options and makes the job easier.

Human-machine collaboration (HMC) for decision making with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) gives the pilot greater situational awareness and flexibility to adapt the system according to his needs, allowing him to fully concentrate on executing his tactical mission.

New tactical sensors include the Raven ES-05 AESA radar (Active Electronically Scanned Radar) and the Skyward-G electro-optical infrared search and track (IRST). The Gripen E radar is a wide field of view, coherent, multi-mode, X-band AESA radar designed to detect, acquire and track air, sea and land targets. The radar also has functions for linking weapons data and ISR missions, allowing high-resolution images of the ground to be obtained using pulses emitted by the radar. It fully supports the Meteor missile.

The sensor fusion in Gripen E enables an improved electronic warfare system with the ability to attack through active measures, such as the SEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses) function.

Gripen E is integrated with new weaponry and external payloads, such as the Electronic Attack and Jamming Pod (EAJP) and the LADM (Light Air-Launched Decoy Missile). Meteor is the latest in the series.

The integrated electronic warfare package comes with passive and active functions. It includes a 360-degree spherical coverage as a result of combining a radar warning receiver (RWR), a missile approach warning system (MAWS), anti-radar reflector dispensing systems (chaff ), flares (flares), decoys, and an internal jamming system, which allows interference in adversary sensors.

Gripen E CGI with weapons load.

SAAB has already released CGI images of Gripen E sporting a multirole configuration, including (from the outside to the centre) two short-range infrared-guided IRIS-T missiles; two Rafael SPICE 1000 glide bombs; two Saab RBS 15 NG anti-ship missiles; three MBDA Meteor long-range radar-guided missiles, and a Rafael Litening 5 signalling pod.

Reconnaissance pods like the RecceLite; which is of similar dimensions to the Litening -also manufactured by Rafael- provide the ability to use various automatic or manual programs for obtaining images in the visible or infrared spectrum as a Datalink antenna for the transfer of this data in flight.

The Gripen E is able to use voice and data communications, satellite communications, and video links to engage in network-centric warfare. This can be done through a number of systems, including communication and tactical systems like Link 16, which can connect to the communication networks used by joint forces and is the perfect fighter for an independent force to ensure air superiority.

The Gripen E also features an identify friend-foe (IFF) system that works with the latest IFF modes required to cooperate with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and other joint forces. In July 2020, NATO issued a mandate by which all its forces and allied countries must update the IFF protocol from mode 4, which had been used for decades, to a new protocol with greater security and, according to current technology, called IFF mode 5.

The aircraft can fly and operate its systems safely even in areas without GPS coverage, thanks to the sum of the elements that make up its navigation system.

The number of pylons or external load points has gone from eight to ten, giving the Gripen E a greater capacity to carry weapons or external loads.

In the E version, the GE-F414-G with a maximum thrust power of 22,000 lbf (9,979 kgf) has been used instead of the GE-F404-G engine in the C version, with a thurst of 18,000 lbf (8,174 kgf). This allows the aircraft to fly at a supersonic cruising speed without using the engine’s post combustion stage, which significantly increases its tactical and operational capacity while reducing fuel consumption. 

The internal fuel load has increased by more than 35% to give the Gripen E greater range, which was achieved by modifying the landing gear configuration and freeing up volume within the fuselage to optimize fuel tanks.

Sea Gripen, also known as Gripen Maritime, is a carrier-based fighter of the next generation that has all of the capabilities of the Gripen E. This option is only on paper and was offered to India for both CATOVAR and STOBAR versions.

Brazil has ordered 36 Gripen E in addition to the 60 ordered by the Swedish Air Force.


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