Saab Teases Early Progress with Future Fighter Concept Studies

Saab Teases Early Progress with Future Fighter Concept Studies

Saab has revealed initial details about its Future Fighter System (KFS) study launched in mid-2023 for the Swedish armed forces. Working with the Swedish air force, Defence Materiel Administration and Defence Research Agency, Saab is under contract through late 2025, with discussions upcoming on the next phase.

Wide Range of Concepts Explored

Peter Nilsson, head of Saab Aeronautics’ advanced programs unit, said the high paced KFS program running until 2030 is looking at concepts and technology demonstrators across a wide array of platforms from advanced manned fighter designs to “loyal wingman” unmanned systems. Aspects like low observability, autonomy and AI are being studied.

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Wind Tunnel Tests and Simulations

Saab has already conducted wind tunnel testing on some of the concepts to support early evaluations. A future review with the customer will cover desired technology demonstrators, with work to also utilize simulations and ground test rigs.

Leveraging Gripen E for Experiments

With the Gripen E fighter only beginning Swedish service next year, a potential focus could be an unmanned “collaborative combat aircraft” concept. Nilsson hinted at potentially using the Gripen E as a platform to experiment with technologies like AI that could transition to that program.

Multidisciplinary Research Efforts

The advanced programs unit has about 120 staff currently, set to grow to 270. It is exploring a range of supporting technologies like embedding transmit/receive modules into composite radar arrays. Saab’s Rainforest accelerator also plans to fly its 3D printed “Ruby” UAV testbed this year.

Long-Range Technology Development

While Stockholm had initially engaged with the UK on future combat air efforts, Nilsson said “Sweden decided with all the things happening the war in Ukraine, NATO membership, and a raised defence budget let’s take a deep breath and see where we are going to go” with this long range indigenous program.

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