Saab is to offer the Gripen Aggressor for the UK’s upcoming Air Support to Defence Operational Training programme.
Saab presented a new variant of Gripen, the ‘Aggressor’ at DSEI in London last week.
The company say the Aggressor is based on the ‘proven Gripen C-series and is the ultimate platform for the adversary air combat training market’.
“Gripen Aggressor brings a unique mix of high performance, mission flexibility and availability combined with a low life cycle cost.”
The UK’s Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) programme aims to meet the training component of UK air support across the Air Force, Navy, Army and Joint Forces Commands from 2020, progressively replacing existing contracted and military service provision as these programmes expire or reach their planned end of service date.
In June 2016 the Ministry of Defence released information on what the UK Military Flight Training Systems Project Team would be seeking from the multi-phased programme. These requirements – still subject to refinement – currently cover the provision of live flying assets to meet training requirements for air to air combat; air to surface combat; joint terminal attack controller / forward air controller (airborne); electronic warfare; air traffic control, ground based air defence and aerospace battle management; and live gunnery.
There is a growing segment within the adversary air combat training market for highly advanced aggressor capabilities to be able to perform realistic combat training. Saab rather enthusiastically say that the Aggressor provides an exceptional, dissimilar opponent aircraft system against which pilots will sharpen and refine their combat skills ‘so as to fight and win against an advanced enemy threat’.
“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. 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 Aggressor”, says Richard Smith, head of Gripen marketing & sales at Saab.
The company state in a release:
“Gripen Aggressor is based on the proven Gripen C-series fighter weapon system, but has been customised for the aggressor role. It has all the renowned handling and flight characteristics associated with the Gripen C and its advanced sensor and datalink capabilities, but will not carry live armament.
The Gripen C-series is in-service across the world including NATO members and has a firm development plan with on-going enhancements in hand.”
An aggressor, or adversary, aircraft, is used to act as an opposing force in advanced military combat training. Aggressor squadrons use enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures to provide a realistic environment for the fighter pilots to train against.
Saab sees potential for the platform as a high-level aggressor option within both the United States Air Force’s Adversary Air (ADAIR) and UK MOD’s Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) requirements, and wherever users look to prepare pilots for the challenges of sophisticated modern air combat.