Outsmarting the threats – Saab’s new EW Systems

10 June 2019

By David Oliver

“The focus today is shifting from asymmetric operations to traditional combat force.” Petter Bedoire, Head of EW Marketing &Sales told EDR On-Line.

With radar threats regaining importance, stealth and counter-stealth technologies are being deployed. Stealth platforms need to operate non-transmitting, increasing the need for passive sensors and “silent” networking. At the same time surveillance radars at low frequency bands (VHF) are re-emerging and with long-range Anti-Access/Area Denial Systems proliferating, capabilities to neutralise A2/AD are required. “The Operational Signal environment for electronic warfare (EW) systems is becoming more and more complex. Systems developed 20 years ago are not able to handle all these signals, making it difficult to differentiate the threats signals from other signals.”

Through a combination of long-term research programmes and product-focused research and development (R&D) Saab has developed a new family of airborne pylon-integrated “invisible” countermeasure dispenser systems, the Arexis.

The Multi Functional System/Electronic Warfare (MFS/EW) self-protection suite has been integrated on Gripen E demonstrator aircraft 39-9

Through a combination of long-term research programmes and product-focused research and development (R&D) Saab has developed a new family of airborne pylon-integrated “invisible” countermeasure dispenser systems, the Arexis. The Arexis family of electronic attack pods comprising self-protection, escort jammer, and stand-off jammer capability variants, are based on the improved EW system installed Saab’s JAS 39 Gripen E fighter aircraft, the Multi Functional System/Electronic Warfare (MFS/EW) self-protection suite.

The MFS/EW is fully integrated with other tactical mission systems on board the aircraft, and there are also sensor fusion on several layers, combining all tactical sensors in Gripen E such as the AESA radar, electro optical (EO) sensors, IRST and also the datalink. These sources and sensors are integrated into one high-level sensor fusion and situational awareness system for the pilot to enhance the effectiveness of the mission. All these sensors have been integrated and flown in Gripen E development aircraft 39-9.

Based on wideband digital technology specifically developed for robustness in the very complex signal environment of today, the core technologies in Arexis are ultra-wideband digital receivers and digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) devices, gallium nitride (GaN) solid-state active electronically scanned array (AESA) jammer transmitters and interferometric direction finding systems, and high-speed digital signal processing architectures.

The Arexis escort jammer pod incorporates L-band and S-band GaN-based AESA antennas in the fore and aft sections of the main pod structure, with large VHF and UHF fin antennas mounted externally. The low-band jammer is contained within a demonstrator pod that is 4 metres long and weighs 350 kg. The podded Arexis has been specifically designed for integr

ation with any type of single engine fighter aircraft and well as export customer’s Gripens. Saab will conduct a first test flight of a Gripen C/D carrying the pod-housed electronic attack jammer later this year.

Photos courtesy Saab