JAS 39 Gripen

JAS 39 Gripen

Infobox Aircraft
name = JAS 39 Gripen
type = Multirole fighter
manufacturer = Saab

caption = A Swedish Air Force JAS 39 at an exercise in Bulgaria, 2003.
designer =
first flight = 9 December 1988
introduction = 9 June 1996
retired =
primary user = Swedish Air Force
more users= Czech Air Force Hungarian Air Force South African Air Force
number built = 202 as of August 2008
status = Active service
unit cost = US$40-61 million (export price VAT excluded) [ [http://www.defense-aerospace.com/dae/articles/communiques/FighterCostFinalJuly06.pdf "Sticker Shock: Estimating the Real Cost of Modern Fighter Aircraft"] , defense-aerospace.com, 2006, p. 2. ] [ Tran, Pierre. [http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=3627265&c=EUR&s=TOP "Buy Now, Save a Bundle on the F-35"] , "Defense News", 15 July 2008. ]
variants with their own articles =

The Saab JAS 39 Gripen (Swedish: "griffin") is a 4.5 generation fighter aircraft manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab. Gripen International acts as a prime contracting organisation and is responsible for marketing, selling and supporting the Gripen fighter around the world.

The aircraft is in service with the Swedish Air Force, the Czech Air Force, the Hungarian Air Force and the South African Air Force, and has been ordered by the Royal Thai Air Force. A total of 236 Gripens have been ordered as of 2008. [ [http://www.gripen.com/en/GripenFighter/TheGripenFighter.htm "The Gripen Fighter Aircraft"] , Gripen International. ]


By the late 1970s a replacement for Sweden's ageing Saab 35 Drakens and Saab 37 Viggens was needed. Frawley 2002, p. 147. ] A new fighter was being considered by 1979, [ Spick 2000. ] with design studies beginning the following year. The development of the Gripen began in 1982 with approval from Swedish Parliament. [ [http://www.gripen.com/en/GripenFighter/GripenStory.htm "Gripen − The Story So Far"] , Gripen International. ]

The Gripen was designed for performance, flexibility, effectiveness and survivability in air combat. The designation JAS stands for "Jakt" (Air-to-Air), "Attack" (Air-to-Surface), and "Spaning" (Reconnaissance), indicating that the Gripen is a multirole or swingrole fighter aircraft that can fulfill each mission type. The JAS 39 got its name Gripen through a public competition in 1982. [http://www.fmv.se/WmTemplates/page.aspx?id=1408 "Gripen − Milestones"] , FMV (Swedish Defence Material Administration). ] The griffin is the heraldry on Saab's logo and suited the multirole characteristics of the aircraft. Furthermore, the griffin is the symbolic animal on the coat of arms of Östergötland, the province in which Saab AB is headquartered (Linköping).

Sweden chose to develop the Gripen rather than purchase a variant of the F-16, F/A-18A/B, or the "F-5S" version of the Northrop F-20 Tigershark.

The first Gripen was rolled out on 26 April 1987, marking Saab's fiftieth anniversary. [ Winchester 2004, p. 216. ] The first prototype first flew on 9 December 1988. [ Williams 2003, p. 73. ]

Teaming agreements

In 1995, Saab Military Aircraft and British Aerospace or BAe (now BAE Systems) formed the joint venture company "Saab-BAe Gripen AB", with the goal of adapting, manufacturing, marketing and supporting Gripen internationally. The deal was to take advantage of BAe's global marketing experience. BAe designed an improved wing, which they manufactured, producing approximately 45% of export airframes. BAe also saw the Gripen as a complementary product to its existing aircraft, fitting between its Hawk light attack/trainer and the larger Tornado and Typhoon fighters. This cooperation was extended in 2001 with the formation of Gripen International for the same purpose. In December 2004, Saab and BAE Systems agreed that from January 2005 Saab would take full responsibility for marketing of the Gripen in light of Saab's increased export marketing capabilities.

On 26 April 2007, Norway signed an agreement on a joint development programme of the aircraft regarding co-operation in advanced development work on future versions of the aircraft. The value of the deal, which will allow Norwegian companies to take part, is about NOK 150 million over two years. [http://www.gripen.com/en/MediaRelations/News/2007/agreement_norway.htm "Gripen agreement in Norway"] , Gripen International, 26 April 2007. ]

In June 2007, Thales Norway A/S and Saab signed a contract concerning the development of communications systems for the Gripen fighter. This order for the Norwegian company is the first to be awarded under the provisions of the Letter of Agreement signed by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence and Gripen International in April 2007.

As part of Gripen International's marketing efforts in Denmark, a deal was signed in December 2007 with Danish technology supplier Terma A/S which allows them to participate in an industrial co-operation programme over the next 10-15 years. The total value of the programme is estimated at over DKK 10 billion, and is partly dependent on Denmark choosing the Gripen. [http://www.gripen.com/en/MediaRelations/News/2007/saab_offers_danish_industry_great_opportunities.htm "Saab offers Danish industry great opportunities"] , Gripen International, 4 December 2007. ]

Gripen NG

A two-seat "New Technology Demonstrator" has been built, [ [http://www.gripen.com/en/MediaRelations/Pressreleases/2007/070619_demo.htm "Gripen Demo − Trail-blazing the future"] , Gripen International, 19 June 2007. ] and was presented on 23 April 2008. It has increased fuel capacity, a more powerful powerplant, increased payload capacity, upgraded avionics and other improvements. The new aircraft is also referred to as the "Gripen Demo". [ Hoyle, Craig. [http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2008/04/23/223212/pictures-saab-reveals-gripen-demo-aircraft.html "Saab reveals Gripen Demo aircraft"] , Flightglobal.com, 23 April 2008. ] [ [http://www.gripen.com/en/MediaRelations/News/2008/Gripen_Demonstrator_The_Future_has_Arrived.htm "Gripen Demonstrator – The Future has Arrived!"] , Gripen International, 23 April 2008. ]

The new Gripen NG (Next Generation) will have many new parts and will be powered by the GE/Volvo Aero F414G, a development of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet's engine. The engine will have 20% more thrust at 98 kN (22,000 lb), enabling a supercruise speed of Mach 1.1 with air-to-air missiles. Hoyle, Craig. [http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2008/04/25/223299/saabs-demo-aircraft-to-highlight-gripen-ng-capabilities.html "Saab's Demo aircraft to highlight Gripen NG capabilities"] , Flightglobal.com, 25 April 2008. ]

Compared to the Gripen D, the Gripen NG's max takeoff weight has increased from 14,000 to 16,000 kg (30,900-35,300 lb) with an increase in empty weight of 200 kg (440 lb). Due to relocated main landing gear, the internal fuel capacity has increased by 40%, which will increase ferry range to 4,070 km (2,200 nmi). The new undercarriage configuration also allows for the addition of two heavy stores pylons to the fuselage. Its PS-05/A sensor adds a new active electronically scanned array (AESA) antenna for flight testing beginning in mid-2009.

Gripen Demo's maiden flight was conducted on 27 May 2008. The test flight took about 30 minutes and reached a maximum altitude of about 6,400 meters. [ [http://www.gripen.com/en/MediaRelations/News/2008/Gripen_Demo_makes_its_maiden_flight.htm "Gripen Demo makes its maiden flight"] , Gripen International, 27 May 2007. ]


In designing the aircraft, several layouts were studied. Saab ultimately selected an unstable canard design. The canard configuration gives a high onset of pitch rate and low drag, enabling the aircraft to be faster, have longer range and carry a larger payload.

The combination of delta wing and canards gives the Gripen significantly better takeoff and landing performance and flying characteristics. The totally integrated avionics make it a "programmable" aircraft. It also has a built-in electronic warfare unit, making it possible to load more ordnance onto the aircraft without losing self defence capabilities.

The Gripen affords more flexibility than earlier generations of combat aircraft used by Sweden, and its operating costs are about two thirds of those for JA 37 Viggen.

In the Swedish Air Force's list of requirements was the ability to operate from 800 m runways. Early on in the programme, all flights from Saab's facility in Linköping were flown from within a 9 m × 800 m outline painted on the runway. Stopping distance was reduced by extending the relatively large air brakes; using the control surfaces to push the aircraft down, enabling the wheel brakes to apply more force and tilting the canards forwards, making them into large air brakes and further pushing the aircraft down.


The Gripen uses the modern PS-05/A pulse-doppler X-band radar, developed by Ericsson and GEC-Marconi, and based on the latter's advanced Blue Vixen radar for the Sea Harrier (which inspired the Eurofighter's CAPTOR radar as well). Lake 2008, p. 2. ]

The radar is capable of detecting, locating, identifying and automatically tracking multiple targets in the upper and lower spheres, on the ground and sea or in the air, in all weather conditions. It can guide four air to air missiles (e.g. AIM-120 AMRAAM, MBDA MICA) simultaneously at four different targets. [ [http://www.vectorsite.net/avgripen.html#m2 "The SAAB JAS 39 Gripen"] , vectorsite.net, 1 October 2007.] Verify source|date=May 2008


The cockpit has three full colour head down displays and digital emergency instrument presentation unique to the aircraft. The cockpit layout provides a human-machine interface that eases pilot workload substantially and increases situational awareness, but still provides substantial future growth potential. The pilot flies the aircraft by means of a centre stick and left hand throttles.

The cockpit provides a display area some 30 per cent larger than that available in most other fighters, with the multi-function displays taking up around 75 per cent of available space.

It is dominated by three large (15.7 x 21 cm) active-matrix, liquid crystal, multi-function displays and a wide angle (20 x 28 degree) head-up display (HUD). The displays are equipped with light sensors for computer assisted brightness and contrast control.

Expeditionary capabilities

One interesting feature is the Gripen's ability to land on public roads, which was part of Sweden's war defence strategy. The aircraft is designed to be able to operate also if the air force does not have air superiority.

During the Cold war, the Swedish Armed Forces were preparing to defend against a possible invasion from the Soviet Union. Even though the defensive strategy in principle called for an absolute defence of Swedish territory, military planners calculated that Swedish defence forces could eventually be overrun. For that reason, Sweden had military stores dispersed all over the country, in order to maintain the capacity of inflicting damage on the enemy even if military installations were lost.

Accordingly, among the requirements from the Swedish Air Force was that the Gripen fighter should be able to land on public roads near military stores for quick maintenance, and take off again. As a result, the Gripen fighter can be refueled and re-armed in ten minutes by a five man mobile ground crew operating out of a truck, and then resume flying sorties. [ [http://www.gripen.com/en/GripenFighter/tailormade.htm "Tailor-made for the modern defense budget"] , Gripen International. ]

In the post-Cold War era, these dispersed operation capabilities have proved to be of great value for a different purpose. The Gripen fighter system is expeditionary in nature, and therefore well suited for peace-keeping missions worldwide, which has become the new main task of the Swedish Armed Forces.

Operational history

Current operators

The Gripen is in operational service with the Swedish Air Force, which has ordered 204 aircraft (including 28 two-seaters). The Czech Air Force and the Hungarian Air Force also operate the Gripen, and currently lease 14 Swedish Air Force aircraft each, with the option of eventually acquiring them. In both cases two of the aircraft are two-seaters. The Czech and the Hungarian Air Force are the first Gripen operators within NATO.

Deliveries to the South African Air Force (26 aircraft, including nine two-seaters) commenced in April 2008, and are ongoing.

Gripen has also been ordered by the Royal Thai Air Force (six aircraft, four of them two-seaters).

The British based Empire Test Pilots' School (ETPS) is operating Gripen as its advanced fast jet platform for test pilots worldwide.

Potential and future operators

The Croatian Air Force has announced plans to replace their MiG-21 bis aircraft, possibly with either the JAS 39 Gripen or the F-16 Falcon. [http://www.morh.hr/en/vijesti_main_en.asp?id=308 "Agreement signed ... "] , Croatian Ministry of Defence On-line, 1 February 2007. ] The long-term final projection calls for 24 aircraft. On 27 March 2008, the Swedish Defence Material Administration and Saab responded to Croatia's request for information regarding the procurement of twelve aircraft. [ [http://www.gripen.com/en/MediaRelations/News/2008/Gripen_answer_to_Croatian_request.htm "Gripen answer to Croatian request"] , Gripen International, 9 April 2008. ] [ Kucic, Dino. [http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2008/04/17/223048/saab-details-gripen-proposal-to-croatia.html "Saab details Gripen proposal to Croatia"] , Flightglobal.com, 17 April 2008. ] The Croatian Air Force is expected to make a decision later in 2008.Fact|date=April 2008

The Romanian Air Force has announced that they will replace their MiG-21 LanceR aircraft beginning in 2008, possibly with JAS 39 Gripen, F-16 Fighting Falcon or Eurofighter Typhoon. [ ro icon [http://www.cotidianul.ro/index.php?id=45&art=25285&nr=3&cHash=b2e1d334a5 "SUA şi UE se intrec să ne doboare MiG-urile" (Replacement of the MiG-21)] , from "Cotidianul", January 2007. ] [ ro icon [http://www.antena3.ro/Romania-vrea-sa-schimbe-MIG-ul-din-dotare_bss_32634.html Romania replaces the MiG-21] , Antena 3, 16 May 2007. ]

India has shown interest in evaluating the Gripen for its tender for 126 multi-role combat aircraft. Gripen International handed over its proposal on 28 April 2008. The company is offering the Gripen IN, a version of the Gripen NG for India's tender. [ [http://www.gripen.com/en/MediaRelations/News/2008/Gripen_IN_next_generation_fighter_for_India_The_Independent_Choice.htm "Gripen next generation fighter for India - The Independent Choice"] , Gripen International, 28 April 2008. ] Other nations that are showing interest in the Gripen include Denmark, Norway and Slovakia. [ [http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/the-jas39-gripen-swedens-4th-generation-wild-card-02401/ "The JAS-39 Gripen: Sweden's 4+ Generation Wild Card"] , Defense Industry Daily. ] [ [http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/brazil-embarking-upon-f-x2-fighter-program-04179/ "Brazil Embarking Upon F-X2 Fighter Program?"] , Defense Industry Daily. ]

Denmark has signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Defence Ministers of Sweden and Denmark to evaluate the Gripen, pending Denmark's future replacement of their fleet of 48 F-16s. Denmark has also requested for the new variants of Gripens to be developed. It will include the package of new avionics, a larger and more powerful engine, larger payload and, most importantly, longer range.

On 17 January 2008 the Swiss Defence Material Administration invited Gripen International to submit initial bids for supplying the Gripen as a replacement for their old F-5s. [ [http://www.gripen.com/en/MediaRelations/News/2008/080117_ch_rfp.htm "Switzerland invites Gripen team to bid for F-5 Tiger replacement"] , Gripen International, 17 January 2008. ] Saab responded with a proposal on 2 July 2008. The exact number of aircraft has not been disclosed. [ [http://www.gripen.com/en/MediaRelations/News/2008/080702_Saab_offers_Gripen_to_Switzerland.htm "Saab offers Gripen to Switzerland"] , Gripen International, 2 July 2008. ]

On 18 January 2008 the Norwegian Ministry of Defence issued a Request for Binding Information (RBI) to the Swedish Defence Material Administration, [ [http://www.gripen.com/en/MediaRelations/News/2008/080118_no_rbi.htm "Norway requests Sweden to bid for F-16 fleet replacement"] , Gripen International, 18 January 2008. ] who responded on 28 April 2008 with a proposal in which 48 aircraft are offered. [ [http://www.gripen.com/en/MediaRelations/News/2008/Gripen_proposal_to_Norway_delivered.htm "Gripen proposal to Norway delivered"] , Gripen International, 28 April 2008. ]

On 7 July 2008 "Dagens Industri" reported that the Netherlands announced they will evaluate JAS 39 Gripen Next Generation together with four other competitors and announce the result in the end of 2008. [ sv icon [http://di.se/Avdelningar/Artikel.aspx?ArticleID=2008

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