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Military Aviation => Military Aviation News => Topic started by: F-111 C/C on December 18, 2009, 11:19:06 PM

Title: Saab touts Sea Gripen for India and Brazil
Post by: F-111 C/C on December 18, 2009, 11:19:06 PM
Robert Hewson Jane's Air-Launched Weapons Editor
London
Saab is responding to an Indian Navy (IN) request for information (RfI) regarding future carrier-capable fighters with a new development of the Gripen NG, dubbed the Sea Gripen.
India's RfI, selectively released to bidders over recent weeks, seeks detailed information on a common aircraft design for conventional aircraft carrier operations and short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) operations.
Beyond the (much delayed) entry into service of the INS Vikramaditya (the rebuilt former Russian Navy vessel Admiral Gorshkov ), India has ambitious plans to build three indigenous aircraft carriers (IACs). Near-term procurement of the MiG-29K should equip Vikramaditya and IAC 1. The IN's RfI is looking for a follow-on type to operate from IAC 2 and 3.
Jane's understands the RfI has been issued to Boeing, Dassault, Eurofighter, Lockheed Martin, Sukhoi and Saab. While India is notionally developing a naval version of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, the RfI is a recognition that this troubled programme might not be able to deliver an operational combat aircraft in the necessary timescale. India hopes to commission IAC 2 and 3 in the second half of the next decade.
Prior to receiving the RfI Saab had completed detailed design pre-studies for the Sea Gripen in response to earlier interest from Brazil and others. In fact, designs for a navalised Gripen date back to the 1980s in Sweden. For Saab the Indian requirement is particularly important because of its potential links with Brazil's F-X2 fighter competition. The Sea Gripen would be part of the long-term industrial development package for India and Brazil, should either country select the Gripen NG. The Indian RfI also makes a specific request that India's chosen aircraft should be exportable.
Saab's Sea Gripen project leader is former Swedish Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Peter Nilsson, now vice-president of operational capabilities for the Gripen. "You have the Rafale, Super Hornet, even - some day - the JSF [Joint Strike Fighter], but no affordable option for nations that want independent seapower. Gripen has a built-in carrier capability that was part of the original design consideration. It is made for precision landings on a short strip. The aerodynamics, handling and landing qualities are all there. You don't have to mess with it," he told Jane's .
The Sea Gripen is made possible by the inherent performance characteristics of the Gripen and the structural changes introduced with the Gripen NG. It has been designed to operate from 'full-spec' carriers at a maximum take-off weight of 16,500 kg and a landing weight (with weapons and fuel) of 3,500 kg. The same basic design parameters make it well suited to STOBAR operations. Any Gripen can already operate from a standard Swedish 'roadbase' strip of 800 m x 17 m, without arrestor hooks or brake chutes. Existing flight control qualities and low approach speed make the Gripen further suited to the carrier environment.
Some of the changes demanded for the Sea Gripen include a stronger, longer nose gear, with larger tyres and a new shock absorber; a new main undercarriage capable of absorbing a 6.3 m/sec sink rate; a strengthened arrestor hook, repositioned from the current design; removal of corrosion risks from the airframe using new manufacturing techniques/materials; and integration with an approach/landing system.
The result will be an aircraft with an empty weight of under 8,000 kg with a total fuel and weapon load of around 8,500 kg. Combat radius is estimated at around 1,250 km in a maritime strike profile or 1,400 km in an offensive counter-air profile. For carrier operations the aircraft will have a service life of 8,000 flight hours with an even distribution between shipborne and land-based operations.
Nilsson says the design work done so far has been a serious adjunct to the Gripen NG and has a very real footing. Asked about the inherent difficulties in taking any land-based fighter and putting it on a carrier, Nilsson replied: "If you were starting with an ordinary fighter you would have a much bigger problem."
"We have an engine [General Electric's F414] cleared for naval ops by the US Navy. We have thoroughly studied the load paths through the airframe. The Gripen is already built for high sink-rate landings in road base operations. So we need a new nose gear and undercarriage and we'll have to change some of the internal structure, but it's been analysed and it's possible. We built an arrestor hook into the Gripen NG proposal for Norway. That will have to be strengthened for carrier ops, with a new attachment point, but the work is there. Today's Gripen NG has a better wing attachment design with a more distributed load path than the current Gripen.
"The Gripen already has a salt water protection requirement. It does need more study but we already have an aircraft designed to operate in -50C and +50C, from the Arctic to hot-and-high with severe humidity. We don't build fighters for nice sunny days."
Saab expects to make initial presentations to the IN in January 2010 and submit an RfI response the following month.
Title: Re: Saab touts Sea Gripen for India and Brazil
Post by: Webmaster on December 31, 2009, 02:07:28 PM
Cool idea, I doubt that it will materialize though. But well, if India insists on local assembly, I suppose it has some chance compared to Super Hornet. Maybe the latter is also too big/high cost for the requirement.
Title: Re: Saab touts Sea Gripen for India and Brazil
Post by: F-111 C/C on December 31, 2009, 04:37:57 PM
Cool idea, I doubt that it will materialize though. But well, if India insists on local assembly, I suppose it has some chance compared to Super Hornet. Maybe the latter is also too big/high cost for the requirement.
It's sounds like SAAB is really 'selling' the idea as 'no big deal', swap a few parts and BAM, it's done. I'm with you. I think it will be a huge undertaking and, like everything, will cost way more and take way longer to do. If the jet was originally designed and conceived with multi-purpose in mind (a la F/A-18), that's one thing. But to retrofit an existing airframe to adapt to a new, entirely different mission, after the fact? I can't see it happening.
Title: Re: Saab touts Sea Gripen for India and Brazil
Post by: Gripen on January 01, 2010, 02:43:17 AM
What exactly would they have to do to it to make it Carrier Capable?
Title: Re: Saab touts Sea Gripen for India and Brazil
Post by: shawn a on January 01, 2010, 04:58:54 AM
Corrosion resistance, Beefier landing gear, Tailhook, and probably some other stuff I haven't thought about. Different avionics? Would it have the 414 engine?
I've personally always liked the Gripen. Damn good design.
Title: Re: Saab touts Sea Gripen for India and Brazil
Post by: F-111 C/C on January 01, 2010, 05:19:43 AM
From the article above:
Some of the changes demanded for the Sea Gripen include a stronger, longer nose gear, with larger tyres and a new shock absorber; a new main undercarriage capable of absorbing a 6.3 m/sec sink rate; a strengthened arrestor hook, repositioned from the current design; removal of corrosion risks from the airframe using new manufacturing techniques/materials; and integration with an approach/landing system.
Title: Re: Saab touts Sea Gripen for India and Brazil
Post by: Webmaster on January 01, 2010, 06:26:10 PM
One of the advantages of the Gripen has always been that it is a relatively lightweight design, which meant the F404 was sufficient for the job. Now with the NG development it can carry more fuel and a heavier load, thanks to the F414. But if you make it carrier capable, the structural and gear strengthening means it gains weight. With the F414 that should probably be no problem, but I don't expect NG-type load configs. Its mission config will be much more like the original Gripen then, which is what... two self-defence IR, two BVRAAMs, two Mavericks or some AShM like the RBS-15 and maybe one centre line tank max? Still for Brazil/India that might just be what they are looking for. I am not so sure about Brazil's need for it though. And India, well if the MiG-29K lives up to its promises and that new AESA proves to be a success, then I suppose it's much more interesting for them to have HAL build more MiG-29Ks. But there seems to be a real desire in India to get 'into bed' so to speak with US manufacturers. At least they recognize that the naval LCA won't be happening. Sure they say 'in the future', but this RfI tells me it won't be happening anymore. Ah well, who knows.