THE AIRFORCE - AIRCRAFT - GRIPEN D
It was announced in November 1998 that as part of the new defence equipment package, the SAAF would acquire Saab-BAE Systems supplied Gripen new generation fighter aircraft, customised to meet specific South African requirements, to fulfil the role of an Advanced Light Fighter Aircraft (ALFA).
The original order was for 9 dual- and 19 single-seat aircraft. However, the order was revised in 2005 to nine dual-seat and seventeen single-seat aircraft to replace the dual-seat Cheetah D and the single-seat Cheetah C fighters then currently in inventory and due to be phased out between January 2008 and December 2012 (actually retired in April 2008). The 26 Gripens will be delivered progressively between 2008 and 2012.
South Africa's first Gripen, SA01, rolled-off the Saab assembly line in October 2005 and made its maiden flight in Sweden on 11 November. SA01 made its South African public debut on 19 September 2006, on the eve of the African Aerospace & Defence (AAD) 2006 exhibition held at Air Force Base Ysterplaat in Cape Town. This aircraft, a fully test-instrumented two-seater Gripen D, is based at the SA Air Force's Test Flight Development Centre in the Southern Cape, where it is engaged in the comprehensive integration and development of customised South African avionics, weapons and systems. The first South African Gripen aircraft will be delivered to the SAAF in 2008.
Advanced aerodynamic combining a close coupled canard-delta configuration.
Lightweight structure employing advanced materials and construction techniques.
The world´s most highly developed data link.
Triplex, digital fly-by-wire Flight Control System for optimum combat agility.
Fully-integrated avionic systems operating via five MIL-STD 1553B digital data bus highways.
Advanced cockpit layout with large color Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) and Hands-On-Throttle-And-Stick (HOTAS) controls.
Long range Ericsson PS-05/A multi-mode, pulse doppler radar.
Powerful, fuel efficient, Volvo Aero Corporation RM12 turbofan engine.
On Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS) and Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR).
Low visual radar and Infra-Red (IR) signatures.
Heavy and varied weapons load covering all mission parameters - Air-to-Air, Air-to-Ground, Air-to-Sea, Reconnaissance and Advanced Tactical Training - an unrivalled mix of simplicity and sophistication.
50% lower operating costs than its best competitor.
Capable of operating from simple road bases and dispersed bases with the minimum of maintenance personnel and ground support equipment.
Cockpit and Display System:
The Gripen cockpit is dominated by three large, full color, Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) and a wide angle diffractive optics Head-Up Display (HUD) with a holographic combiner. A highly efficient human-machine interface has been integrated into the Gripen to substantially ease pilot workload, particularly in combat situations. This provides a Gripen pilot with outstanding situational awareness, ensuring unrivalled operational effectiveness. It also increases the time available for tactical decision-making allowing the pilot to use the aircraft and weapons system to maximum effect.
The main functions of each display are as follows:
Head-Up Display (HUD) - providing FLIR imagery and weapon aiming information superimposed on the outside world at all altitudes.
Flight Data Display (FDD) - provides flight data and system status information about the engine, fuel and external stores.
Horizontal Situation Display (HSD) - provides navigational and tactical mission data superimposed on an electronic map of selectable scale.
Multi-Sensor Display (MSD) - presents information from the radar, FLIR imagery and other sensors. Flight and fire control data are also superimposed.
The primary sensor of the Gripen target acquisition/weapons aiming system is the long range Ericsson PS-05/A radar. The Gripen radar is a compact, long-range, high performance multi-mode pulse doppler radar with a modular architecture and high reliability, offering high resolution, excellent look-down performance and good Electronic Counter-Counter Measures (ECCM) capabilities. Using state-of-the-art technology, including fully programmable signal and data processors, the radar is able to handle all types of air defence, air-to-surface and reconnaissance missions with built in growth potential to meet future requirements.
The Volvo Aero Corporation RM12 is a modular, fuel efficient, low bypass ratio afterburning turbofan in the 80 KN (18,000lb) thrust class. It is based on the General Electric F-404-400 which has attained several million flight hours in operations world wide - with several enhancements incorporated by Volvo including increased thrust and bird strike resistance.
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