Saab Gripen NG @ Aero India, Billypix
Saab's Gripen NG was due to touch down at Le Bourget as the crowds drifted away on Monday evening, with the manufacturer to showcase its new-technology fighter demonstrator to several delegations over the next two days.
Arriving from the Swedish manufacturer's Linköping site, the NG will be on static display here with new avionics equipment and Rockwell Collins displays in its rear cockpit. Previously used in the completed Gripen Demo programme, the NG airframe was returned to the air on 19 May after a refit. Still featuring baseline avionics in the front seat, it has since been flown around 20 times.
Now being offered to Brazil, the NG is being used to prove technologies for the next-generation version of the Gripen, a type already flown by the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa, Sweden and Thailand. Stockholm has said that it would match a Brazilian selection by ordering 10 Gripens in the new production configuration, while its own air force should make a decision next year on its future requirements for the aircraft.
"What we're doing now with the avionics is a much bigger step than achieving supercruise with the Demo," said Peter Nilsson, Saab's head of air domain, referring to successful work in which the Gripen gained the ability to sustain supersonic flight without the use of afterburner.
Following the completion of avionics testing later this year, the NG will be equipped with Selex Galileo's ES-05 Raven active electronically scanned array radar.
"The next aircraft will be coming in October 2013, and is being built from scratch as an NG," said Nilsson. This will bring a new look for the Gripen, with a longer fuselage, increased wingspan and new engine inlets.
Saab is also holding out hopes of getting the NG back into an Indian contest for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft. However, its chances hinge on the nation balking at the cost of acquiring either of its favoured candidates: the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon.