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tested and has now gone operational. Its introduction has coincided with a raft of other changes to the Swedish Air Force’s Gripen. “We are getting it into operational service right now, this spring, with the introduction of a new software version of the Gripen,” says Helgesson. “This version 20 is a big upgrade. There are lots of different new systems involved, like the small diameter bomb, full implementation of Link 16, radar upgrades and, of course, the Meteor missile itself.” When asked about the transformation that the new upgrade delivers, Helgesson says: “When you look

“THE INCREASED RANGE GIVES US A TACTICAL ADVANTAGE” at what we arm the Gripen with, both the Meteor and the IRIS-T, I think we have got a really good weapons suite. Meteor is a radar-guided missile and it is equipped with a ramjet engine. It has a long range. It has a larger no-escape zone than earlier missiles and it also has a two-way data link that offers the pilot better situational awareness. Basically, this gives us better control of the battlefield meaning we can take fewer risks. Plus we can use different sorts of tactics that do



The new E version of the Gripen is in production, and will come with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar

not necessarily include the extreme height or extreme speeds that we have used with previous missiles.” When asked whether having such a capable new missile translates into reducing the number of aircraft required to fulfil the Flygvapnet’s tasks, Helgesson is categorical: “No. I wouldn’t say that. There is no direct correlation. The increased range gives us a tactical advantage, but not the need for fewer aircraft.” The next big update for the Gripen will be the introduction of an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, which is being readied for the new E version of the aircraft. “At the moment we are integrating the Meteor missiles with the current radar system,” says Helgesson. “However, with the next generation of AESA radar on the next generation of the Gripen, we will have increased integration and, of course, increased performance.”


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23/06/2016 14:47

RAF Air Power 2016 – Inspiration and Innovation  

An official publication of the Royal Air Force

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