Saab JAS 39 Gripen (Griffin) Lightweight 4th Generation Multi-role Fighter Aircraft
The Sabb JAS 39 Gripen is in limited use worldwide though popularity of the system continues to grow.
Authored By Dan Alex; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Saab JAS 39 "Gripen" ("Griffin") forms the primary fighter wing of the Swedish Air Force (among others). The type is a highly-advanced aerial platform utilizing the latest in digital controls and weapons delivery all the while being produced in a modestly sized and highly streamlined package to strict Swedish Air Force requirements. The JAS 39 has been in operational service since 1997 after a relatively long development period and export interest has grown with the loosening of typically strict Swedish export rules (and their historically neutral stance). To date, the JAS 39 stocks the inventories of several air forces in the world and over 240 of the type have been produced in single-seat and twin-seat forms. The Gripen remains a major global player in the realm of advanced lightweight fighter designs, able to undertake a variety of mission roles from air defense to interception, ground attack to armed reconnaissance as well as training. The Saab Gripen is comparable on the world stage with the American General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Russian Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum series.
By the end of the 1970s, the Swedish Air Force found itself looking to advance their frontline fighter capabilities over that of the aging Saab Drakens and Viggens. The Draken, with its unique double-delta wing and single-engine design, was introduced in March of 1960 and managed a successful, if modest, existence with several air forces, being produced in 644 examples from 1955 to 1974. The Draken was developed to replace the outgoing Saab J29 Tunnan fighters. Comparatively, the Viggen made its presence known in June of 1971 to which 329 examples were produced from 1970 to 1990. The type was developed as a broader solution to undertake interception, strike and reconnaissance roles and sported a more conventional delta wing profile with forward canards and a single engine design. Work on their replacement began in 1979 with studies undertaken in 1980 to produce a modern end-product worthy of Swedish Air Force needs that could undertake a plethora of required battlefield roles. In 1981, a consortium was formed that involved Saab, Volvo Aero Corporation, Ericsson/GEC-Marconi and FFV Aerotech to design, develop and produce various portions of the aircraft program - the group known collectively as "IG JAS" (IG = "Industry Group"). In 1982, the Swedish government formally approved funding for the project which led to an order for five evaluation prototypes and a further 30 production quality aircraft.