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  • Wide-Angle Radar For Gripen NG
    Posted by Bill Sweetman 6:00 AM on May 01, 2009

    Back around Aero-India, certain of Gripen's competitors (you know who you are) were circulating the rumor that the NG version was in trouble because it didn't have a radar. The demonstrator will fly with a Thales active electronically scanned array (AESA) but the French government and Dassault - now seeing the NG as a competitor in India and Brazil - had blocked the export of a production radar.

    By that time, though, it was pretty clear that Saab was talking to Selex - which, back when it was Ferranti, was a partner on the Gripen radar - about its own AESA technology. Saab had also been very clear that the Thales AESA was purely there for test purposes.

    Now that the Saab-Selex deal is official, Saab has posted a brochure on the planned radar - showing that it uses the "swashplate" design mooted by Selex some years ago. I discussed it here in connection with Eurofighter. 

    blog post photo

    With a 200 degree field of regard in azimuth and elevation, the swashplate AESA is strong in off-boresight performance, an area where the fixed AESA is weak - because the latter loses performance off-boresight and can't scan more than 120 degrees at all. And it does it all with one mechanical bearing, which is much less highly loaded than the gimbals of a mechanically scanned radar. 

    In BVR missile engagements, the wide-angle scan allows you to launch a missile and continue to track the target while weaving to make the adversary's shot more difficult. In WVR, it works well with a datalink-equipped high-off-boresight missile. It's also possible to see how it would work in an all-weather or through-weather attack on a moving ground target, allowing the fighter to keep tracking the target (updating a guided bomb in flight) by performing a "pylon turn" around the target's location.

    Tags: ar99, gripen, selex

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