L3Harris Weapon Launchers on Saab’s Game-changing Gripen E Fighter to Increase Firepower, Pilot Security

Three L3Harris Missile Eject Launcher, Pylon 5 (MELP5) with MBDA Meteor missiles under-fuselage on a JAS Gripen aircraft. Image: Saab

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 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.

L3Harris MELP5 trial units.
L3Harris MELP5 trial units.

“These innovative launchers will provide our customers with step-change in operational effectiveness when deploying the Gripen E fighter, which will increase mission success,” said Dave Zack, President, Mission Avionics, L3Harris. “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.”

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.

“The production contract represents the culmination of much hard work by our team,” said George Gardner, Managing Director for L3Harris Release and Integrated Solutions Ltd. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with Saab throughout the life of the Gripen E aircraft.”

The L3Harris pneumatic technology is adaptable to virtually all advanced manned and unmanned aircraft platforms with a requirement for air-air missile capability. The company designs, develops and manufactures MELP5 in the Brighton, United Kingdom facility. The PMEL product represents a key addition to the L3Harris’s portfolio of non-ITAR pneumatic and gravity release launchers.