Saab Flies New Electronic Attack Pod

 - November 7, 2019, 12:02 PM
A Gripen D carried EAJP aloft for its first flight, but the main application envisaged for the system is the Gripen E/F, with Typhoon an export candidate. (photo: Saab)

On November 4, Saab conducted the first flight of its new Electronic Attack Jammer Pod (EAJP). The pod was mounted under the wing of a JAS 39D Gripen two-seater for the trial flight from the company’s Link√∂ping plant. During the sortie, the EAJP’s interface with the aircraft—both hardware and software—was tested, as were cockpit control and monitoring systems.

EAJP employs advanced jamming functions to protect the aircraft against threat radars, and also provides an electronic attack (EA) function to disable transmitters. It draws on Saab’s long experience in electronic warfare (EW) products, both passive and active, and in particular that gained from the Gripen’s internal EW systems.

EAJP is available for a variety of aircraft types, and is earmarked for the Gripen E/F currently in development. The jamming and electronic capabilities of EAJP will complement and augment those of the Gripen E/F’s advanced internal self-protection suite. In service, EAJP could be carried by select aircraft to act as EW escorts in a similar role to that currently undertaken by the U.S. Navy’s EA-18G Growler.

There are a number of international EW/defense suppression requirements that could be answered by the EAJP. Germany, for instance, has a future need for such a capability that could be answered by pod-equipped Typhoons.

Both EAJP and the Gripen E/F defensive aids system are part of the Saab Arexis family of EW systems and capabilities, which was first publicized at the DSEI show in London in 2017. An Arexis pod displayed at the time had large fins to house VHF/UHF antennas, with L- and S-band e-scan arrays in the front and rear of the pod. However, the pod that is under test is more slender and is finless. It is around 4 meters (13 feet) long and weighs around 350 kg (770 pounds).

In addition to the EW/EA systems, the development of air-launched decoys carrying EW payloads and an advanced missionized rear cockpit also fall under the Arexis umbrella. Saab has been one of the pioneers of gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor technology for both radars and EW systems, and this is incorporated in the form of the electronically scanned antennas that provide a directional jamming capability.

In the Gripen internal installation, the system has AESA ECM antennas mounted fore and aft in the wingtip pods and tail fin fairing. Radar-warning receiver antennas are located under the forward fuselage and in the wingtip pods. The wingtip pods also house ultra-wideband digital receiver/exciters and digital radio frequency memory devices.