At DSEI this week, Saab presented a new variant of the Gripen fighter, the Gripen Aggressor.

Richard Smith, Saab Gripen, told us: “It’s based on the proven C-series fighter and it’s customised for a specific sector – advanced adversary air combat, commonly known as the aggressor market.”

An aggressor aircraft is used to act as an opposing force in advanced military combat training. Aggressor squadrons use enemy tactics, techniques and procedures to provide a realistic environment for the fighter pilots to train against.

The advantage of dissimilarity

The aggressor market typically uses classic aircraft from the 60s and 70s. Smith said: “The problem is legacy fighters don’t have the same performance as aircraft entering service today or in the future. The other problem is when a new modern fighter takes on a fighter that’s the same, it’s also ‘negative value training’ because those pilots know the performance of the other jet that they’re fighting against. It means that when they go up in the air, it’s a waste of money.

“With Gripen Aggressor, we bring a dissimilar aircraft – based on the fighter. The DNA of the Aggresor is based on the C-series fighter.”

With the new Aggressor, Saab is targeting the UK’s ASDOT programme the US’ Adair programme, neither of which have a Gripen fighter.

Smith said: “One of the advantages in the aggressor market is to be dissimilar – to replicate a threat that a pilot might go up against in a conflict of the future.”