Saab Gripen, RIAT 2017 ©Nigel Key
9 December 1988.
The Saab 'Gripen' was designed as a multi-role aircraft to replace the ageing 'Draken' and 'Viggen'.
In designing the aircraft, several layouts were studied. Saab ultimately selected a delta wing-canard design with relaxed stability. This configuration provides for a high manoeuvrability along with better take-off and landing performance.
The 'Gripen' also has low drag, enabling it to fly faster, have increased range, and carry a larger payload. The totally integrated avionics make it a "programmable" aircraft, changing the software can provide for additional mission profiles.
The 'Gripen' was also designed to provide for a fast sink rate and hard, short landings. While lacking thrust reversers that would allow the engine to aid braking, the aircraft's canards can be angled downwards to act as air brakes. The main wing is also fitted with flaps and elevons to change the flow of air around the wing, in addition to being able to take off with up to 14,330 lb of rockets, bombs, or missiles, The 'Gripen' is also equipped with a single 27 mm Mauser BK-27 cannon.
The prototype 'Gripen', serial number 39-1, had its first flight on the 9th of December 1988 flown by Stig Holmström. During the test programme, a problem was highlighted with the 'fly-by-wire' control system when the prototype crashed during landing on the 2nd of February 1989. Fortunately, test pilot Lars Radeström walked away from the crash with only a broken arm.
The cause of the crash was identified as pilot induced oscillation which was due to problems with the flight control system's pitch control routine. Saab undertook major software improvements to rectify the problem using a modified NT-33A to test the changes before commencing flight tests with the 'Draken'.
A further setback befell the test programme on the 18th of August 1993 when a production aircraft crashed during an aerial display in Stockholm. The pilot lost control of the aircraft at low level and the aircraft stalled forcing him to eject. The problem was traced to high amplification of the pilot's quick and significant stick command inputs again leading to software improvements until perfected.
The Saab Jas 39 Gripen was produced from 1987, with over 270 built.
Volvo Aero RM12, producing 12,100 lbf
18,100 lbf (after burner).
1 x Mauser BK-27 27mm revolver cannon
11,700 lb (5,300 kg) Rocket/Missile/Bomb load
The Swedish Air Force placed a total order for 204 'Gripen' in three batches. The first delivery occurred on the 8th of June 1993, when '39102' was handed over to the Flygvapnet during a ceremony at Linkoping and the last being handed over on the 13th of December 1996.
The JAS 39 'Gripen' entered service with the Swedish Air Force F7 wing on the 1st of November 1997.
As of the 24th of October 2011, the Swedish Air Force 'Gripen' had flown more than 650 combat missions, almost 2,000 flight hours and delivered approximately 2,000 reconnaissance reports to NATO.
|Crew - 1|
|Length - 46ft 3in (14.1m)|
|Wingspan - 27ft 7in (8.4m)|
|Height - 14ft 9in (4.5m)|
|Empty Weight - 15,000lb (6,800kg)|
|Max. Weight - 31,000lb (14,000kg)|
|Max. Speed - 1,530 mph (2,460 km/h)|
|Range - 2,000 miles (3200 km)*|
|*with drop tanks|