Potential markets for EW suites
Saab is anticipating a downselection from India by the end of the year for a new self-protection system for its HAL TEJAS light fighter, for which the company is offering an active electronically scanned array (AESA) pod alongside a new fire control radar.
The company is in talks with a number of Indian companies regarding in-country component manufacture ahead of the selection, and a success in this market in support of the indigenous fighter programme is expected to place Saab in good stead for potential future sales of its GRIPEN fighter.
The AREXIS pod serves to provide electronic support measures (ESM) to the aircraft, although Jonas Grönberg, Head of Product Management for GRIPEN EW, told MONS that there will be no electronic attack (EA) capability in the system. “For TEJAS, this is a line replaceable unit that can just carry out ESM,” Grönberg said.
AREXIS could be offered with an EA capability in the future with a larger array and more frequency options and autonomy, and this is something that Saab is studying: “This is based on a concept study within Saab to look at the threats beyond 2025,” Grönberg said.
He noted that requirements will evolve to include this EA capability, including for the company’s GRIPEN E fighter. Grönberg said there is some EA capability in GRIPEN E, but the built-in self-protection system is mainly an ESM and electronic-countermeasures capability. “This is a concept we’ve been looking at for GRIPEN E and other aircraft,” he said.
The GRIPEN E fighter will have the Leonardo-developed RAVEN AESA integrated, so if Saab’s bid for TEJAS is selected, it will be the first AESA fighter radar success the company will see. Grönberg added that Saab is in talks with a number of different potential customers regarding the radar, which could be for varying sizes of fighter, and not just limited to the small antenna integration that is being offered for TEJAS.
Furthermore, Saab is looking towards indigenous fighter developments – the so-called ‘F-X’ programmes – worldwide as potential markets for both the electronic warfare and radar systems it is offering to India.
Grönberg also noted that in addition to the fighter market, there have been a number of requests for information for self-protection suites for military transports, but none of these have yet materialised. Surveillance aircraft could also have a need for this type of system, although again there is a slow uptake in terms of solid acquisitions.
Unmanned aerial vehicles would be another potential market for EW suites, Grönberg added, notably because they can get closer to a target in order to carry out EA missions more effectively than manned aircraft.