How Gripen’s enhanced situational awareness is getting the most out of the IRIS-T missile

Saab’s IRIS-T is a highly short-range and extremely agile air-to-air missile. It is manufactured by Germany, Greece, Norway, Italy, Spain and Sweden and is in use in this and other countries. Diehl Defense is the main contractor. What makes IRIS-T in Gripen so special? Simply put, with the Gripen 360’s spherical situational awareness, enemy assets can be targeted, even if they are behind the pilot, and the IRIS-T can be launched using the data system or the integrated HMD solution.

Because of the Gripen’s data connection with other aircraft in the same air unit and its superior sensor fusion, a Gripen pilot can get the full picture of his surroundings, even what is behind him. The high maneuverability and the ability to lock the IRIS-T after take-off make optimal use of the situational awareness generated by the Gripen system. This combination in tactical scenarios leads to a high lethality, which changes the dynamics of the fight within sight range (WVR), and to another property with which Gripen ensures air-to-air peak performances.

As a Gripen pilot, I understood this great ability from my first test of the simulated solution of the integration between HMD and IRIS-T, says Jonas Jakobsson. The aim was to perform evasive maneuvers within a defined volume of interest. After that, I gave the target the freedom to maneuver at will and it tried to make my life as difficult as possible, but managed to circling around calmly and looking over my shoulder until he found the right moment to get the missile fire. That feeling of calm was surreal, the pilot adds.

With an innovative infrared viewfinder, thrust vector control and an engine optimized for air combat, pilots can attack any target from range to maximum range. The IRIS-T was developed on the basis of its predecessor and is characterized by greater maneuverability and a significantly larger firing range. It offers improved detection area, higher impact accuracy and warhead effectiveness, and superior resistance to countermeasures.

The infrared image finder offers extremely high resolution, target discrimination and stray light suppression, even when exposed to extreme interference conditions.

Our offer for Colombia is an all-inclusive combat package. In terms of weapons, this means we are supplying fighters with a range of weapons that will ensure Colombia’s superior air power. We can incorporate any advanced weapon like the Meteor missile, the IRIS-T and any NATO missile, explains Pierre Farkas, Gripen’s executive director for Colombia.

Photo: Saab IRIS-T air-to-air missile

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