The next-generation Saab Gripen E fighter aircraft will allow pilots with the Swedish and Brazilian air forces to carry significant firepower with enhanced air-to-air missile launchers that make them highly effective against potential airborne adversaries. The advanced Gripen models will have three high-performance weapons release systems called Missile Eject Launcher, Pylon 5 (MELP5) to provide an upper hand against airborne threats. MELP5 units launch long-range air-to-air missiles with compressed air pneumatic systems which deploy the weapons more quickly and efficiently, significantly reducing aircraft out-of-service and manpower time.
“The production contract represents the culmination of much hard work by our team. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Saab throughout the life of the Gripen E aircraft,” said George Gardner, Managing Director for L3Harris Release and Integrated Solutions Ltd.
“These innovative launchers will provide our customers with step-change in operational effectiveness when deploying the Gripen E fighter, which will increase mission success. We are proud to provide our affordable edge technology to confront the threats pilots will face not only in today’s battlespace, but well into the future,” said Dave Zack, President, Mission Avionics, L3Harris.
The production contract with Sweden-based Saab is for a total of $27 million. L3Harris developed the system under a design contract with Saab going back to 2014. MELP5 uses L3Harris’ Pneumatic Missile Eject Launcher (PMEL) technology and eliminates the need for pyrotechnics to launch weapons. It requires a lower gas volume than other launchers, reducing overall maintenance and manpower costs. GripEn E is an advanced fighter aircraft system developed to counter and defeat any adversary. It incorporates cutting-edge technologies including systems, sensors, weapons and pods to ensure combat advantage and deliver air superiority in highly contested environments. Both Swedish and Brazilian air services have ordered and are operating Gripen E, with deliveries ongoing.
L3Harris’ PMEL is capable of ejecting stores up to 190 kilograms using less compressed air, at a lower pressure, than other launchers. This highly efficient performance, which is enabled by patented two-stage piston technology,
significantly reduces turnaround time. PMEL is also designed to reduce required personnel. During loading, the launcher makes use of a patented yoke alignment system, self-locating connector and automatic sway bracing to allow for rapid weapon loading with only two personnel. As a combined pylon and launcher unit, the PMEL is currently designed for use under the fuselage on modern highperformance fighter jets to reduce weight and frontal cross section. Development work is underway to adapt the unit for use within weapons bays as a standalone item.