After producing several aircraft with plenty of potential but little international appeal, Sweden’s SAAB aerospace and defence company finally hit the jackpot with the JAS 39 Gripen E or Griffin, a multirole combat aircraft with a delta wing and canard configuration with fly-by-wire flight controls.
The Swedish could have simply bought foreign aircraft but decided to develop their own fleet catering to their needs, especially during rising tensions with the Soviet Union and the persistent threat of an invasion.
The Gripen was influenced by several aircraft of the era, and its first iteration finally flew in 1988, delivering incredible potential. So much so that several variants are still being built to this day.
The latest version of the SAAB Gripen is comparable to the Russian Mikoyan MIG29 and the American General Dynamics F16 Fighting Falcon and has already caught the attention of an impressive array of countries.
It is a highly competitive marketplace, but the sky’s the limit for the company’s most successful aircraft to date…
Saab JAS 39 Gripen
The Saab JAS 39 Gripen (IPA: [ˈɡrǐːpɛn]; English: griffin)[Nb 2] is a light single-engine multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by the Swedish aerospace and defense company Saab AB. The Gripen has a delta wing and canard configuration with relaxed stability design and fly-by-wire flight controls. Later aircraft are fully NATO interoperable. As of 2020, more than 271 Gripens of all models, A–F, have been built.
In 1979, the Swedish government began development studies for an aircraft capable of fighter, attack, and reconnaissance missions to replace the Saab 35 Draken and 37 Viggen in the Swedish Air Force. A new design from Saab was selected and developed as the JAS 39. The first flight occurred in 1988, with delivery of the first serial production airplane in 1993. It entered service with the Swedish Air Force in 1996. Upgraded variants, featuring more advanced avionics and adaptations for longer mission times, began entering service in 2003.
To market the aircraft internationally, Saab formed partnerships and collaborative efforts with overseas aerospace companies. On the export market, early models of the Gripen achieved moderate success, with sales to nations in Central Europe, South Africa, and Southeast Asia. Bribery was suspected in some of these procurements, but Swedish authorities closed the investigation in 2009.
A major redesign of the Gripen series, previously referred to as Gripen NG (Next Generation) or Super JAS, now designated JAS 39E/F Gripen began deliveries to the Swedish and Brazilian Air Forces in 2019. Changes from the JAS C to JAS E include a larger fuselage, a more powerful engine, an increased weapons payload capability, and new cockpit, avionics architecture, electronic warfare system and other improvements.