Saab has started fabrication of the first pre-production Gripen E multirole combat aircraft, which will be used for demonstration to customers of the next generation fighter’s new features and capabilities.
The company is initially planning to construct front fuselage parts following completion of a short and intense design period using the latest tools and methods, also called ‘Model Based Design’.
After assembling the fuselage parts into a complete airframe, an intensive construction period will begin for the installation of cables, mount systems, as well as the outer shell and other equipment on the aircraft.
Saab Business Area Aeronautics head Lennart Sindahl said the use of the latest processes, methods and tools will enable the company to bring forward a more capable fighter aircraft at an even more favourable lifecycle cost.
"Following years of R&D investments in aeronautical design, we can offer unique opportunities for transfer of knowledge and technology by inviting customer countries’ industries into the work on Gripen E," Sindahl said.
"The Gripen E programme will also continue to drive technological development as well as the creation of jobs, both in Sweden and in other countries," he added.
A next-generation version of the JAS 39 Gripen aircraft, Gripen E is expected to feature more powerful engines, enhanced sensor suite, a fully digital cockpit, including head-up display (HUD) system and modern avionics to successfully conduct longer duration missions.
Additional features will include new communication links, increased flight time, more weapon stations and load capability, as well as a new electronic warfare system.
In February, Saab and the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) had signed an agreement, which includes the development and modification of 60 Gripen E aircraft for Swedish Air Force between 2013-26, and a possible contract for new production of Gripen E for Switzerland
Image: A Gripen E/F aircraft stationed at Emmen Airbase in Switzerland. Photo: © 2010 Saab Group.