Gripen NG Demonstrator started flight testing again on October 27 following a modification which includes the installation of an AESA radar.
The Gripen NG Demonstrator has been modified with a number of tactical systems: AESA radar, a new satellite communication system, an electro-optical missile warning system as well as activation of the increased internal fuel.
“A lot of new features have been implemented since we flew for the first time last year, but it takes an expert to see any external changes to the aircraft. Most clearly visible are the sensors for the missile warning system and antenna for the satellite communication system,” says Mattias Bergström, project manager for the Gripen NG Demonstrator.
AESA radar, Active Electronically Scanned Array, is among the enhanced Gripen’s capabilities. In simple terms, it refers to a radar that is built up of many small antenna elements into a large antenna. Each individual element can be controlled, facilitating many functions. Previously, the Gripen radar was a mechanically controlled antenna that illuminates one area at a time. An AESA radar can quickly scan larger areas, monitor more targets simultaneously and allow the pilot to operate with more flexibility.
“The new satellite communication system that we have introduced means you can communicate voice and text via satellite technology,” explains Mattias Bergström.
The sensors for the electro-optical radar warning system, Missile Approach Warning (MAW), can be seen on the aircraft at the wing root and by the air brake. The system will mainly detect Man Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS).
The flights will now continue and the flight envelope will be opened once again, while all the new tactical systems will be tested.