24 November 2013

Why the Saab Gripen is different From the JSF

We don't care, we don't have to...we're the phone company.
While the customers of the F-35 are being shut out of its software, and are unable to integrate their own weapons systems, Saab is using its willingness to incorporate outside systems to make the platform more attractive:
A focus on realistic requirements has helped Swedish industry and government teams integrate weapons on the Gripen faster and at lower cost than similar efforts elsewhere, Saab says.

Two new weapons for the Gripen, the Raytheon GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II laser-plus-GPS bomb and Diehl Iris-T infrared air-to-air missile (AAM), were successfully integrated in 2006-09, according to Gideon Singer, technical director for Gripen exports, and Lisa Abom, head of the Saab project office for engineering and weapons. Flight testing of the Thales Digital Joint Reconnaissance Pod for South Africa's Gripens was completed in 2011 in “less than eight months,” they say.

The Gripen was also selected as the test platform for the MBDA Meteor AAM. The first production firing took place this summer and qualification firings for full integration of the Gripen will be complete in 2014. Sweden will be the first air force to field the new missile, with the Gripen MS 20 package in 2015. That upgrade will also include the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb.


Saab devotes 14% of integration costs to planning and coordination, Singer and Albom told the Defense IQ International Fighter Conference here this month. One lesson is to “reach early agreement,” they said. This means defining and clearly interpreting requirements, limitations and the approach to testing. “You need to avoid terms like 'full envelope,'” Singer remarked. “If you ask, the operational pilot will often say that he doesn't need to go supersonic with three tanks and all these bombs.”
The JSF is such a huge program that they don't care, much like Ma Bell in the 1960s.

Lockheed, and the Pentagon, see the closed nature as a source of profit (for Lockheed), and as a way to preserve the industrial base and to freeze out foreign competition (for both), and as such, it will be an upgrade nightmare, even for the so-called "partners" in the program.


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