The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is the first new-generation multi-role/swing-role fighter to enter service worldwide and combines high performance, outstanding maneuverability and fully integrated information and weapons systems for all air combat situations.
Offering an unrivaled mix of simplicity and sophistication to defeat all present and future threats, it is the world’s most capable and cost-effective combat aircraft in operation today.
The Gripen first took to the skies in December 1988 and entered service with the Swedish Air Force in 1997. Gripen has been developed by an industrial consortium consisting of Saab, Ericsson Microwave Systems, Volvo Aero Corporation, Saab Avionics and FFV Aerotech. A joint venture company, Gripen International, has been set up by Saab and BAE Systems to market the Gripen for export markets. BAE Systems is building the main landing gear unit and wing attachment unit.
The Gripen replaces the Viggen and Draken combat aircraft in service with the Swedish Air Force. The name Gripen ( Griffin ) was chosen by Saab in 1982 for the new aircraft. The Griffin is the symbol on the Saab logo and suited the multi-role characteristics of the aircraft. The designation JAS stands for Jakt (Air-to-Air), Attack (Air-to-Surface), and Spaning (Reconnaissance). Designed to operate from 800 meter runways and be able to use roads for take off and landing ( part of Sweden’s defense strategy is to use public highways as runways ), the Gripen has operating costs that are about two thirds of those for the Viggen. A five man ground crew can refuel and re-arm the airplane in just 10 minutes.
One interesting feature of the Gripen is the air-to-air data link that allows real time exchange of tactical data within and between cooperating air units. In the attack and reconnaissance role, the data link allows radar-derived surface data to be transferred from one Gripen to a group of radar-silent attacking aircraft.
The Swedish Air Force has ordered 204 Gripen (including 28 of the two-seater version) for two operational squadrons, with deliveries continuing till 2008. In November 1998, the South African Air Force ordered 28 Gripen multi-role aircraft (19 single-seat and nine dual-seat). In June 2004, the Czech Republic signed a leasing agreement with the Swedish Government for 14 new Gripen (12 single-seat JAS 39C and two two-seat JAS 39D) for a period of ten years. The aircraft were delivered between April and August 2005. Hungary has also leased 14 Gripen ( including two dual-seat ), making Hungary and The Czech Republic the first Gripen operators within NATO. Croatia, Romania, India, Denmark, Chile, and Norway have also shown interest in the Gripen.
Saab JAS 39 Gripen in South Africa
Saab JAS 39 Gripen variants
Gripen JAS 39A – Fighter version that first entered service in 1996. 31 of these will be upgraded to C/D standard.
Gripen JAS 39B – Two-seat version of the A variant.
Gripen JAS 39C – NATO-compatible version of Gripen with extended capabilities in terms of armament, electronics, etc.
Gripen JAS 39D – Two-seat version of the C variant.
Gripen JAS 39E/F – Planned versions for 2010 and after. Will have increased fuel capacity, higher payload, upgraded avionics and other improvements.
Saab JAS 39 Gripen specifications
Crew 1 or 2
Length 14.1 m (46 ft 3 in)
Wingspan 8.4 m (27 ft 7 in)
Height 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in)
Wing area 25.54 m (274.9 ft)
Wheel track 2.4 m (7 ft 10 in)
Empty weight 6,620 kg (14,600 lb)
Loaded weight 8,720 kg (19,200 lb)
Max takeoff weight 14,000 kg (31,000 lb)
1× Volvo Aero RM12 (GE F404) afterburning turbofan, 54 kN dry, 80 kN with afterburner (12,000 lbf / 18,100 lbf)
Maximum speed Mach 2
Range Combat radius 800 km, (500 mi), (430 NM). ()
Service ceiling 15,000 m (50,000 ft)
Wing loading 341 kg/m² (70,3 lb/ft²)
1 × 27 mm Mauser BK-27 cannon
6 × Rb 74 or Rb 98
4 × Rb 99, Rb 71, MICA or Meteor
Rb 75, KEPD 350, or various other laser-guided bombs, rocket pods.
Rb 15F anti-ship missile
Bk 90 cluster bomb