Always one to develop military solutions from within, the nation of Sweden engineered its own jet trainer / light attack platform in the early 1960s. The aircraft, the Saab 105, was a private venture and adopted by the Swedish Air Force for a variety of roles. Austria became the product's only other global operator and 192 were built in all. Despite its Cold War origins, the Saab 105 family continues to fly today (2016).
Two prototypes were completed for the test phase and a first-flight was recorded on June 29th, 1963. 130 examples were then ordered by the Swedish Air Force as the "Sk 60". The order was later revised to 150 aircraft and the first production-quality form went airborne in 1965. Service introduction occurred in 1967.
Design-wise, the aircraft was given a conventional layout. A unique quality was its side-by-side seating for student and instructor. The cockpit was under a large, single-piece canopy and positioned aft of a flat nosecone assembly. A split-air intake arrangement was used to aspirate the twin engine configuration buried with in the fuselage. The engines exhausted along the sides of the fuselage ahead of the tail unit. The tail incorporated a single vertical tail fin and high-mounted horizontal planes. The undercarriage was of a typical tricycle configuration with short legs, giving the Saab 105 a decidedly low-profile when on the ground. The wing mainplanes were straight and high-mounted.
The Sk 60A was the initial production model and completed as two-seat trainers. These were delivered without the intended hardpoints of later models and only had them added retroactively allowing the aircraft to be used as an attacker in addition to jet training. The Sk 60B was given attack functionality from the outset and operated as a ground attacker and weapons training platform. A new weapons sight was fitted. A Fairchild KB-18 reconnaissance camera was fitted to the aircraft to make up the Sk 60C production form which could no function in the attack-reconnaissance role. One prototype led the fleet of 29 Sk 60A conversion models. The Sk 60D became a four-seat liaison model from the Sk 60A stock. The Sk 60E was similar in form and function but included more commercial instrumentation in the cockpit.
A 1993 program saw ninety-six Sk 60A, -B and -C family aircraft refitted with Williams Rolls FJ44turbofan engines to produce the Sk 60W standard. This aircraft recorded a first-flight in 1995 and the conversion work wrapped up in 1998.
The Saab 105XT was developed as an export demonstrator and was essentially an improved version of the Sk 60B production model. These carried the General Electric J85 turbojet engine and a prototype was formed from the original Saab 105 program prototype. The Saab 105XT became the Austrian Saab 105O model which totaled 40 aircraft. Updated avionics, improved range through increased fuel capacity, reinforced wing mainplanes and an uprated engine differentiated this model from previous offerings. For a time, Austrian Saab 105O models were used in the air defense role.
There were other forgotten entries to the Saab 105 product line: the Saab 105D was a propose business jet that found no customers. The Saab 105G was a refined Saab 105XT but only a prototype was completed (from an existing Saab 105XT). The Saab 105H was a proposed variant intended for Swedish Air Force service but not followed through on. The Saab 105S was another proposed form for possible sale to Finland as a trainer. This model was passed on in favor of the BAe Hawk.
Because of its age in Swedish service, the Saab 105 is a candidate for replacement by a more modern jet trainer. A formal Request for Information (RFI) was put out by the Defence Ministry to entertain thoughts on a successor. Saab is partnered with Boeing to challenge for the USAF's T-X trainer program and the outcome of this competition might influence the future design of the Swedish replacement aircraft - particularly as pilots begin the transition from 4th Generation fighter types to 5th Generation mounts.
July 2020 - The Austrian Air Force will be retiring its aging line Saab 105 jet trainers without a suitable replacement to be had.
Status Active, Limited Service
Production 192 Units
Saab - Sweden
35.43 ft (10.8 m)
31.17 ft (9.5 m)
8.86 ft (2.7 m)
13,847 lb (6,281 kg)
22,527 lb (10,218 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Saab 105 production model)
2 x General Electric J85-17B turbojet engine developing 1,638lb of thrust.
603 mph (970 kph; 524 kts)
1,429 miles (2,300 km; 1,242 nm)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Saab 105 production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
Support for Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs), Air-to-Surface Missiles (ASMs), gun / cannon pods, conventional drop bombs and rocket pods across six total hardpoint.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Saab 105 production model)
Saab 105 - Base Series Designation; also covering two prototypes completed.
Sk 60A - Initial production model; 149 completed
Sk 60B - Ground attack model and weapons training
Sk 60C - Ground attack and reconnaissance model; Fairchild KB-18 camera fit in nose.
Sk 60D - Four-seat liaison transport
Sk 60E - Four-seat liaison transport
Sk 60W - 1993 modernization program; 2 x Williams Rolls FJ44 turbofans fitted; improvements throughout; A-, B- and C-models updated to this standard.
Saab 105XT - Export demonstrator model
Saab 105D - Proposed business jet
Saab 105G - Proposed revision of Saab 105XT model
Saab 105H - Proposed Swedish Air Force model
Saab 105O - Austrian export model based on the Saab 105XT proposal.
Saab 105S - Proposed Finnish Air Force model; not adopted.
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
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