Sweden pioneered the development of tactical data links, operating its first data link between combat aircraft in the early 1960s. In a time before digital displays and supercomputers, the Swedish Air Force had the ability to counter enemy attacks with radios on the ground without saying a single word.
The request to Sweden to set up a digital data connection arose from the early realization that the country needed a more secure and advanced communication solution. This led to the development of a digital command and control system in the 1960s that would allow digital data link commands to be sent to Draken fighters from strategically located transmitters on the ground.
Years later, the integration and use of digital and tactical data connections in the Gripen has a major impact on his performance in combat and guarantees automatic, secure and continuous communication. Fighters within the same air unit can exchange data on threats, targets, fuel and weapons, which increases situational awareness. Saab defines it as information superiority.
In addition to the ability to integrate a user’s national data connection, Link-16 is added for interoperability and coalition operations. Current and future users have a variety of data networking options to meet their domestic and international needs. Saab ensures that it has always highlighted its fighter’s ability to incorporate any type of data connection that would make the aircraft compatible and interoperable with other air forces and their other resources. The data link installed in the Gripen E has improved bandwidth and capacity and can be customized for each future customer. Saab did this for the Royal Thai Air Force and continued with Brazil.
With Gripen E, fighters from the same air unit not only exchange destinations, but also a lot of sensor information to ensure more complete situational awareness. An aircraft in a formation of four could merge the information it gathers from the battlefield and associate the merged image with another fighter in flight. Each aircraft can also control the other’s sensors. So if more information is required from a certain area, the pilot can send a request to his companions via the data link to place their sensors in the area and then receive more. Information on each destination.
Photo: cockpit of the Saab Gripen fighter jet (photo by Saab)
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