JAS 39 - SAAB JAS 39 Gripen (1992 -     )

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Swedish Air Force multi-purpose fighter aircraft JAS 39C Gripen fitted with recce pod SPK39
For a general describtion of JAS 39 Gripen, see the chapters about JAS 39 in the chapters Attack Aircraft” and “Jet Fighters". This pages will inform about the system for photo reconnaissance.

The most important equipment for JAS 39 Gripen when it is used in reconnaissance duties is the MPRS “recce pod” which in the Swedish Air Force has the designation SPK 39 (Spaningskapsel 39). It is a pod hanging in the centreline under the aircraft. SaabTech is responsible for the development of the system. The pod itself is bought from Terma A/S in Denmark. Swedish Aerotech Teleub is an important subcontractor.

The system is built around three important elementsa sensor fit, a reconnaissance Management System (MPRS) and a digital mass memory (DMM).

Modularity has from the beginning been a guiding-star for the design. The pod is built with a strong back and with rails that allow mew sensors and other equipment to be easily slotted in and out of. The pod has from the beginning been given a generous size for later change to new systems.

The Modular Reconnaissance Pod System (MPRS) is designed for autonomous operation with an internally integrated Environment Control System. A Reconnaissance Management System (RSM) and a Control Display Unit (CUD) are basic parts of the system.

The reconnaissance payload includes (sensors, the Digital Mass Memory (DMM) and a Common Data Link (CDL), are housed in three main compartments in the pod. The rotating window-provided mid-section is able to accommodate advanced sensors suitable for missions at any altitude. The forward and aft compartments of the pod houses DMM, data link equipment and additional sensors as applicable.

The pod has a circular cross-section on the lower 180o of the pod and an advanced rotation section with a small Infra-Red translucent window. The rotating window section is attached directly to the strongback of the pod and can be positioned along the length of the mid-section, which makes it easy to install various different sensors and caters for variation in pod stuffing, weight and balance restraint. The section’s 360 o rotation is electronically synchronised to the sensor aiming. During start and landing, the window will be rotated to a position in the strongback to protect the glass.

The baseline sensor in the Swedish-operated aircraft will be the ReconOptical CA270, which is a digital electro-optical camera optimized for operations at medium and high altitudes. The sensors are of the highest available quality, The high resolution of the CA270 from common flight altitudes makes in unnecessary to fly low altitude missions. Thus reduces the threat from hostile ground fire.

When it is an advantage to pre-plan the reconnaissance operations in detail, there are ground-based missions planning system that can download target information via the transfer units of Gripen. On an “automatic” reconnaissance mission the onboard reconnaissance management system will configure the sensor, direct it towards to target and activate and operate correctly and record the images on the DMM. The pilot has the possibility to take control of the MPRS if unplanned targets show up.

Photo at top: JAS 39C # 39256 with reconnaissance pod SKP39 fitted.

For the Model Builder

Airfix and Italeri have plactic model kits of both JAS 39A Gripen and JAS 39B Gripen in scale 1:72. To the right you can see the box of the fine Italeri kit of JAS 39A in 1:48 (catalouge number 2638). Click on the thumbnail for larger image.
Airfix model kit of JAS 39A Gripen from Swedish Air Force in scale 1:48  
Swedish Air Force multi-purpose fighter aircraft JAS 39C Gripen fitted with recce pod SPK39
JAS 39B #39800 with reconnaissance pod SPK 39 at center line
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© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2010-02-23