Saab 35 Draken

Saab 35 Draken

infobox Aircraft
name = Saab 35 Draken

caption = An Austrian Air Force Draken in a special paint scheme.
type = Fighter
national origin = Sweden
manufacturer = Saab
designer =
first flight = 25 October 1955
introduced = 8 March 1960
retired =1993 Denmark 1999 Swedish Air Force 2000 Finland 2005 Austria
status = Retired from military service
primary user = Swedish Air Force
more users = Austrian Air Force Finnish Air Force Royal Danish Air Force
produced = 1955-1974
number built = 644
unit cost =
developed from = Saab 210
variants with their own articles =

The Saab 35 Draken (Swedish: "kite" or "dragon") is a fighter aircraft manufactured by Saab between 1955 and 1974. The Draken was built to replace the Saab J 29 Tunnan and, later, the fighter variant (J 32B) of the Saab 32 Lansen. The indigenous J 35 was an effective supersonic Cold War fighter that was also successful as an export product. Although out of service today, the Draken was influential as the first in a line of highly-sophisticated Saab fighters.

Design and development

As the jet era started, Sweden foresaw the need for a jet fighter that could intercept bombers at high altitude and also successfully engage fighters. Although other interceptors such as the US Air Force's F-104 Starfighter were being conceived during the same period, Saab's "Draken" would have to undertake a combat role unique to Sweden. Other demanding requirements were the capability to operate from reinforced public roads used as part of wartime airbases, and for refuelling/rearming to be carried out in no more than ten minutes, by conscripts with minimal training. In September 1949, the Swedish Defence Material Administration issued a request for a fighter/interceptor aircraft, and work began at Saab the same year.

Draken's design incorporated a distinctive "double-delta" configuration, with one delta wing within another larger delta. The inner wing has an 80° angle for high speed performance, while the outer 60° wing gives good performance at low speeds. Propulsion was provided by a single Svenska Flygmotor RM 6B/C turbojet (Rolls-Royce Avon 200/300). A ram turbine, under the nose, provided emergency power and the engine had a built-in emergency starter unit. The Draken could deploy a drag chute to reduce its landing distance.

The double-delta shape was so revolutionary that it warranted the only sub-scale test aircraft built in Sweden: the Saab 210, unofficially nicknamed "Lilldraken" (the little kite). The Saab 210 tested the concept of the double delta, first flying on 21 January 1952. The 210's successful testing results led to an order for three full-size Draken prototypes. The first prototype, not fitted with an afterburner, made its maiden flight on 25 October 1955. The second prototype, equipped with an afterburner, unintentionally broke the sound barrier on its first flight while climbing.Erichs, et al 1987]

Operational history

Although not designed to be a dogfighter, the J 35 Draken proved to have good instantaneous turn capability and was a very capable fighter. It entered service in 1960 with the Swedish Air Force; 644 Saab Drakens were built for Sweden as well as other European nations. Sweden's Draken fleet came in six different variants while two Draken models were offered for export. The early models were intended purely for air defence. The last model built was the J 35F, the final variant to remain in Swedish service. These aircraft were retired in the 1990s and replaced by the Saab Gripen.

The J 35 Draken design underwent several upgrades. The last was the J 35J version, in the late 1980s, although by then, the Draken had been almost totally replaced by the Saab 37 Viggen in Swedish service. The J 35J was a service-life extension program since the delivery of the new Saab JAS 39 Gripen was still in the development stage and suffering from delivery delays. The extension program was to keep the Draken flying into the 2000s, but due to cutbacks and high maintenance costs the Draken was eventually phased out. The Swedish Drakens were officially retired in December 1998, although the type remains in limited numbers in both military and civilian versions. Export customers included Denmark and Finland. In 1985, the Austrian Air Force purchased 24 J 35D s reconditioned by Saab, designated J 35Ö.

All Drakens are interceptors with limited air-to-ground capability, with the sole exception of the Danish Drakens, which are strike aircraft capable of carrying AGM-12 Bullpup missiles, advanced "jammers", and increased internal and external fuel stores. The Danish Drakens are so far the heaviest of the series to have been in service. Danish F-35 aircraft were retired in 1993.

Finland updated its 35X fleet with new avionics, cockpit displays, navigational/attack systems and electronic countermeasures during the 1990s but finally retired the Draken in 2000.

Austria was the last country to operate the Draken in military service. They bought refurbished J 35D which was the last variant with two internal cannon due to the Austrian restriction of not being allowed to carry air-to-air missiles. These Drakens were retired in 2005, when they were replaced by former Swiss Tiger IIs, while waiting for new Eurofighters.

In the United States, the National Test Pilot School (NTPS) owns six Drakens that were formerly in Danish service; of these, two TF-35XD s and one RF-35XD are operational, based at the Mojave Spaceport.


Proof of concept

;Saab 210 Draken: (also known as Lilldraken) - A scaled-down, "proof of concept" experimental aircraft to evaluate the double-delta wing configuration, not specifically a Draken variant but included here for sequence purposes.

Full-size Drakens

;J 35A: Fighter version, total production: 90. The J 35As were delivered between 1959-1961. The tail section was lengthened after the 66th aircraft to house a new afterburner for additional thrust. This forced the installation of a retractable tail-wheel. The two versions were nicknamed "Adam kort" (Adam short) and "Adam lång" (Adam long). ;J 35B: Fighter version, built and delivered between 1962–1963, total production: 73. This variant had improved radar and gun sights, and was also fully integrated into the Swedish STRIL 60 system; a combat guidance and air surveillance system. ;SK 35C: 25 J 35As with short tail sections rebuilt into a twin-seated trainer version. The minor modification meant that the aircraft could easily be converted back to a J 35A standard if necessary. The trainer version lacked armament.;J 35D: Fighter version, delivered between 1963-1964, total production: 120. The aircraft had a new and more powerful Rolls-Royce Avon 300 (RM 6C), which could deliver 77.3 kN thrust when using its afterburner. This was also the fastest Draken version, capable of accelerating until out of fuel. It was also the last Draken to carry two cannon.;S 35E: Reconnaissance version, total production: 60. The radar and the armament had been removed and several cameras (of ortho and oblique types) fitted. The aircraft was unarmed but was fitted with a countermeasure system to increase its survivability. A total of 28 aircraft were re-built J 35Ds.;J 35F: Fighter version, delivered between 1965 and 1972, total production: 230. This variant had improved electronics and avionics, e.g. integrated radar, aim and missile systems. The aircraft's main armament where IR and SARH versions of the Hughes Falcon missile originally intended for the J 35D, but one of the cannon was removed to make space for more avionics. The J 35F2 was a J 35F, produced with a Hughes Aircraft Company N71 infra red sensor, a so-called IR seeker. This was a change in the production line from the no. 35501 airframe. ;J 35J: In 1985 the Swedish government decided to modify 54 J 35F2s to J 35J standard. In 1987, 12 more modifications were ordered. Between 1987 and 1991, the aircraft were given a longer lifespan, more modern electronics, a modernized cannon, an additional two sidewinder pylons under the air intakes and increased fuel capacity. The final operative J 35J flew for the last time in 1999. ;Saab 35H: Proposed export version for the Swiss Air Force; none sold or delivered.;Saab 35XD: Danish export versions: F-35 single-seat Strike Aircraft, TF-35 two-seat trainer and RF-35 reconnaissance aircraft. The type was heavily modified to make it into a strike aircraft compared the Swedish versions.;Saab 35XS: Fighter version for the Finnish Air Force; built by Saab and assembled under licence by Valmet in Finland.;Saab 35BS: Used J 35Bs sold to Finland.;Saab 35DS: Used J 35Ds sold to Finland.;Saab 35CS: Used SK 35Cs sold to Finland.;Saab 35Ö: In the mid-1980s, Saab purchased back 24 J 35D aircraft from the Swedish Air Force and converted them into the J 35Ö version (also called J 35OE in English literature). These were later exported to Austria.

Proposed modifications

Before it was decided to develop the JAS 39 Gripen in the late 1970s, an intensive study was undertaken on an AJ 35 modification for the remaining S 35E and J 35F variants. The main goal was to give the aircraft strike capability while waiting for a replacement for the AJ 37 Viggen.;35 MOD Level 4: The most ambitious modification in the program. The proposed modifications were; new outer wing, additional weapon stations, RBS 15 capability, the addition of canard wings by the air intakes for increased maneuverability and maximum take-off weight increased to 15 000 kg.;35 MOD Level 1b: Essentially the aircraft that became the J 35J.

The total number of Drakens produced and delivered: 644.


The Saab 35 Draken was withdrawn from military use in 2005. Several aircraft fly in the civil circuit, mainly in the USA.

* Austrian Air Force, 24 aircraft:
** Fliegerregiment 2
*** Staffel 1
*** Staffel 2;DEN
* Royal Danish Air Force, 51 aircraft:
** No. 725 Squadron
** No. 729 Squadron;FIN
* Finnish Air Force, 50 aircraft:
** HävLLv 11
** HävLLv 21;SWE
* Swedish Air Force
** F 1 Hässlö
** F 3 Malmslätt
** F 4 Frösön
** F 10 Ängelholm
** F 11 Nyköping
** F 12 Kalmar
** F 13 Norrköping
** F 16 Uppsala
** F 17 Kallinge
** F 18 Tullinge
** F 21 Luleå;USA
* Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (2) [ Aircraft] ATAC USA, 2005. Retrieved: 20 July 2008.]
* National Test Pilot School (6)

pecifications (J 35F Draken)

aircraft specification

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet
ref=The Great Book of Fighters [Green, William and Swanborough, Gordon. "The Great Book of Fighters". St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-7603-1194-3.]
length main=15.34 m
length alt=50 ft 4 in
span main=9.42 m
span alt=30 ft 10 in
height main=3.89 m
height alt=12 ft 9 in
area main=49.22 m²
area alt=529.82 ft²
empty weight main=7,865 kg
empty weight alt=17,340 lb
loaded weight main=11,400 kg
loaded weight alt=25,132 lb
max takeoff weight main=16,000 kg
max takeoff weight alt=35,273 lb
engine (jet)=Volvo Flygmotor RM6C
type of jet=afterburning turbojet
number of jets=1
thrust main=56.5 kN
thrust alt=12,787 lbf
afterburning thrust main=78.4 kN
afterburning thrust alt=17,637 lbf
max speed main=Mach 2+, 2,120 km/h
max speed alt=1,317 mph
max speed more=at 11,000 m (36,100 ft)
range main=3,250 km
range alt=2,020 mi
range more=with external drop tanks
ceiling main=20,000 m
ceiling alt=65,600 ft
climb rate main=175 m/s
climb rate alt=34,450 ft/min
loading main=231.6 kg/m²
loading alt=47.4 lb/ft²
more performance=

  • Takeoff roll: 650 m (2,133 ft)
    *1x 30 mm M-55 ADEN cannon with 100 rounds (2x 30 mm M-55 ADEN cannon with 90 rounds each in earlier models)
    *Four hardpoints for either fuel tanks air-to-air or missiles
    *Rb 24, Rb 27 and Rb 28 air-to-air missiles
    *2x 75 mm Air to Air rocket pods could be carried on the belly instead of two tanks or missiles
    *12x 135mm rockets on six underwing pylons in place of the outer two missile/fuel tank pylon
    *55, 220, 500, and 1,000 pound bombs
    *Maximum ordnance 2,900 kg (6,393 lb)

    ee also

    * Saab 210
    similar aircraft=
    * CF-105 Arrow
    * Dassault Mirage III
    * F-102 Delta Dagger
    * F-106 Delta Dart
    * List of fighter aircraft
    * List of military aircraft of Sweden
    see also=




    * Dorr, Robert F., René J. Francillon and Jay Miller. "Saab J35 Draken (Aerofax Minigraph no. 12)". Arlington, TX: Aerofax Inc., 1987. ISBN 0-942548-17-5.
    * Erichs, Rolph et al. "The Saab-Scania Story". Stockholm: Streiffert & Co., 1988. ISBN 91-7886-014-8.
    * Jørgensen, Jan. "Saab 35 Draken: Scandinavian "Cold War" Warrior". Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 1997. ISBN 1-853107-29-8.
    * Laukkanen, Jyrki. "Saab 35 Draken in Finnish Air Force (Suomen Ilmavoimien lentokoneet, osa 3)"(in Finnish).
    * Taylor, John W.R. "Saab 35 Draken." "Combat Aircraft of the World from 1909 to the present". New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1969. ISBN 0-425-03633-2.
    * "This Happens in the Swedish Air Force" (brochure). Stockholm: Information Department of the Air Staff, Flygstabens informationsavdelning, Swedish Air Force, 1983.
    * Widfeldt, Bo. "Draken". Inbunden, Sweden: Air Historic Research AB U.B., 1995. ISBN 91-971605-4-7.

    External links

    * [ Extensive information on the Saab 35 Draken]
    * [ Draken]
    * [ The Saab 35 Draken]
    * [ Saab J35 Draken]
    * [ (English & German) Saab J 35 Oe Draken Mk.II]

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