Global Aircraft -- Saab 39 Gripen
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Saab 39 Gripen Specifications
Primary Function: Multi-role fighter
Contractor: Saab
Crew: N/A
Unit Cost: N/A
  One General Electric/Volvo Flygmotor RM12 afterburning turbofan, 18,100 lb thrust
Length: 46 ft 3 in (14.1 m)
Wingspan: 27 ft 7 in (8.4 m)
Height: 14 ft 9 in (4.5 m)
Empty: 14,600 lb
Maximum Takeoff: 27,560 lb
Speed: 1,321 mph (2,126 km/h)
Ceiling: 50,000 ft
Range: N/A
  One Mauser BK27 27mm cannon, plus up to 14,330 lb including Rb74/AIM-120 AAMs, Rb15F/Rb75 ASMs, free-fall bombs, rockets, DWS 39 submunition dispensor weapons, recce/sensor pods, and fuel tanks on eight external points

Saab 39 Gripen Achievements
  • The Saab 39 will act as Sweden's first class jet fighter.
  • The Gripen is arguably the first fourth-generation fighter to enter service.

Saab 39 Gripen Features
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 Linkeping were flown from within a 9 m x 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).

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.

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

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.

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.

Saab 39 Gripen Background
By the late 1970s a replacement for Sweden's ageing Saab 35 Drakens and Saab 37 Viggens was needed.A new fighter was being considered by 1979,with design studies beginning the following year.The development of the Gripen began in 1982 with approval from Swedish Parliament.

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.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 Ostergetland, the province in which Saab AB is headquartered (Linkeping).

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 50th anniversary.The first prototype first flew on 9 December 1988.

Saab 39 Gripen Photos
Saab 39 GripenSaab 39 Gripen
Saab 39 Gripen

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