Gripen jet

Exelis has signed an agreement with Saab Aeronautics to manufacture and supply structural components for the latter’s Gripen E multirole fighter aircraft.

Under the terms of business agreement, the company will develop and supply pneumatic missile eject launcher (PMEL) pylons, which enable powered ejection of Meteor and AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) from the fuselage underside.

The long-term agreement covers the entire operational life of the aircraft and includes follow-on and upgrades to the system.

Exelis International Night Vision and Communications Solutions vice-president and general manager Ken Harrison said: "This is a great opportunity for us to build on Exelis weapon carriage and release experience and continue to grow in the air-to-air missile eject market."

"The Gripen E is a next-generation version of the JAS 39 Gripen aircraft."

The agreement signature was accompanied by an immediate contract for the design and development phase, which covers the delivery and supply of 214 PMELs.

Manufacturing work under the contract will be carried out at the company’s facility in Brighton, UK, while the delivery schedule remains undisclosed.

The Gripen E is a next-generation version of the JAS 39 Gripen aircraft. It features more powerful engines, a new active electronically scanned array radar, advanced avionics, and upgraded presentation systems in the cockpit to successfully conduct longer missions.

The fighter is equipped with an increased number of weapon pylons. It has maximum payload and more internal fuel for improved range and endurance, and has to date been ordered by the Swedish Air Force.

Saab was hoping to supply 22 aircraft to Switzerland at an estimated cost of CHF3.1bn ($3.4bn), but the plans suffered a setback when the Swiss voters rejected the proposal in May 2014.

Image: Saab’s new Gripen E fighter is a next-generation version of the JAS 39 Gripen aircraft. Photo: courtesy of MatthiasKabel.