Saab is covering both sides of aerial combat with its Gripen Aggressor fighter concept that is designed to play the part of enemy planes in pilot training. Making its public debut at DSEI 2017 in London, the Gripen C variant is designed to appeal to both the US Air Force's Adversary Air (ADAIR) and the British MoD's Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) programs.
Exercises pitting fighter plane against fighter plane is the core of any pilot's combat training, but dogfights against planes in one's own inventory aren't of much use. For greater realism, the major powers since the Second World War have invested in what are called aggressor squadrons. These are squadrons made up of captured enemy planes or specially modified dissimilar aircraft to play the role of the baddies, with their crews trained in enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures.
Saab sees aggressor aircraft as a growing niche market and says that its Gripen Aggressor provides pilots with a suitably realistic challenge thanks to its mix of high performance, mission flexibility and availability, and low life-cycle cost.
The Gripen Aggressor retains most of the features of the C-series fighter, including its advanced sensor and data link capabilities. However, its cannon has been replaced with a similarly balanced dummy and the missiles with a combat simulation system.
"There is a major difference in the capabilities provided by the aggressors on the market today and what the need is for the coming years," says Richard Smith, head of Gripen marketing and sales at Saab. "In order to train as you fight, you need to fly advanced combat tactics against peer and near peer opponents like the Gripen Aggressor. Essentially world class pilots need to train against world class opponents and that is the Gripen Aggressor."
Smith gives a brief overview of the Gripen Aggressor in the video below.
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