Flight for the first time in December 1988, the Reverend SAAB JAS 39 “Gripen” perhaps in fact one of the most capable stealth jet fighters ever built. Designed to replace SAAB 35 “Viggen” and SAAB 37 “Draken”, JAS 39 officially entered service in 1997.
The aircraft was designed and built as part of a joint effort by an industrial consortium consisting of SAAB, SAAB Microwave Systems (formerly Ericsson), Volvo Aero Corporation, SAAB Avitronics and FFV Aerotech. The resulting aircraft is the first Swedish multi-role fighter aircraft – capable of interception, ground attack and reconnaissance.
An example of a very capable fourth generation fighter, JAS 39 had the latest digital controls and weapon systems available at the time.
The history of the Griffon dates back to the 1970s, when the Swedish government decided to explore the possibility of developing a multi-role fighter, which was considered necessary to preserve the importance of the Swedish Air Force in the future. After a while flirting with the American F-16 and F18 fighters, it was decided instead to design and build their own home design.
SAAB was duly contracted to make the project a reality. From this, the single-engine SAAB JAS 39 is born with variants B and D, which also feature longer awnings for crews of two people.
Since 1997, somewhere in the order of 204 SAAB JAS 39 have been built and delivered in a series of batches ordered by the Swedish Air Force. About 70 of them have been delivered to the domestic market, and the rest have been exported to other air forces around the world.
To date, JAS 39 can be found in operation Brazil, Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand. The United Kingdom also has several that are used as training aircraft.
JAS 39 “Grippen” is a very tasty little fighter
The Grippen is powered from a Volvo RM12 post-combustion turbofan engine capable of pumping 54 kN (12,000 lbf) dry thrust or 80.5 kN (18,100 lbf) with afterburner.
This engine provides the aircraft with a top speed of Mach 2 and an effective combat range of about 497 miles (800 km). It can also operate at altitudes of up to 9.47 miles (15.24 km) above sea level.
When it comes to teeth, the fighter is armed 27 mm Mauser BK-27 revolver with 120 rounds (in the single version). It also comes with eight weapon mount points, two under the fuselage, two under and one at the top of each wing. This gives Grippen a variety of armament options, including missiles and laser-guided bombs.
IN E-version of Gripen upgrades the aircraft with a more powerful engine, improved range and greater ability to carry more ammunition. This version also adds a new one SA-radar, infrared search and tracking system (IRST), state-of-the-art electronic warfare and communication systems, along with superior situational awareness.
A really impressive package for any plane.