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JAS 39 Gripen

The JAS 39 Gripen is the result of a joint development by Saab Military Aircraft, Ericsson Microwave Systems, Volvo Aero Corporation and Celsius Aerotech. It is a fourth generation, multi-role combat aircraft. The Gripen fighter combines new knowledge-based, software-controlled avionics systems; modern materials; advanced aerodynamic design; a well-proven engine and fully-integrated system to produce a highly-capable, true multi-role combat aircraft. The Gripen is the first Swedish aircraft that can be used for interception, ground-attack and reconnaissance (hence the Swedish abbreviation JAS -- Fighter (J), Attack (A) and Reconnaissance (S) in Swedish) and is now successively replacing the Draken and the Viggen.

In 1978 the Swedish Government decided that the Swedish Air Force needed a new multirole aircraft for the turn of the century. At the same time as the Swedish aerospace industry was defining a new project, the Air Force made an evaluation of existing foreign aircraft such as the American F-16 and F-18. After an evaluation process, Parliament decided in June 1982 to go ahead with the Swedish project and the Defence Materiel Administration signed a contract for development of the JAS 39 Gripen, and the final flight tests were completed in December of 1996.

A total of 204 aircraft in three batches have been ordered for the Swedish Air Force. The first batch of 30 aircraft has been completed. Deliveries from the second batch are ongoing, and comprises 96 one-seater and 14 two-seater aircraft. About 60 Gripens are in service with the Swedish Air Force. In June 1997, a third batch of 64 Gripens was approved by the Swedish Government and ordered by the Defence Materiel Administration (FMV). This will take the total for the Swedish Air Force to 204 aircraft, including 28 two-seaters. Production of batch thre is scheduled for 2002-2007.

Gripen offers high agility, advanced target acquisition systems - including a powerful multi-role radar, modern weapons, low environmental signatures and a comprehensive electronic warfare (EW) suite. The JAS39 Gripen system is designed to counter all current and future threats. The aircraft has been developed for the Swedish Air Force by the Industry Group JAS (SAAB, Ericsson, Volvo Aero and FFV Aerotech) in close co-operation with the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV). In partnership with Sweden’s Saab, British Aerospace is engaged in a number of marketing campaigns for the highly capable Gripen fourth generation combat aircraft. Engineering activity associated with improving the operability of the aircraft in the export market is now underway.

In 1995 Saab and British Aerospace (BAe) signed an agreement for the joint marketing of the Gripen. Hereby, Saab gained access to the global sales organization of British Aerospace, as well as to its governmental support in international marketing. British Aerospace will adapt the export version of the Gripen to NATO standards, and also produce certain subsystems for the aircraft. The agreement, which followed on more than a decade of cooperation between the two companies, became the basis for a consolidation between Saab and British Aerospace. It also paves the way for SaabCs deepened integration with the European aerospace industry. Saab intends to be an active player along with British Aerospace, Aerospatiale (France), DASA (Germany) and CASA (Spain) in the creation of an integrated European defense and aerospace industry - Eurospace.

In November 1998, South Africa announced that it will probably buy 28 Gripens. The value of the order is 12 billion SEK (1.5 billion USD) and the contract was expected to be signed in May or June of 1999. During the coming 10-15 years, Saab hopes to export at least 400 aircraft, on a total market for fighter aircraft estimated at 2,000 aircraft. The Gripen is currently being offered to Chile, the Philippines, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria and Brazil. Another candidate, Poland, recently announced that it will chose the Boeing F 18 Hornet.

An important factor when offering the Gripen for export, is the aircraft missile system. Currently, the Gripens used by the Swedish Air Force are armed with AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-9 Sidewinder, the Saab Dynamics RBS 15 for ship targets, and the Maverick ground attack missile. Saab Dynamics cooperates with the major European missile manufacturers in the development of new air-to-air missiles for the Eurofighter, the Rafale and the Gripen. The two main projects currently underway are the Meteor and the IRIS-T. The Meteor is a radar-guided, medium range (10-120 km.) air-to-air missile, which will compete with future versions of the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM. The Meteor program features Matra BAe Dynamics, Saab Dynamics, Alenia Difesa, Marconi and German LFK. The IRIS-T is an IR-guided, short-range air-to-air missile, primarily funded by Germany for the Eurofighter. The project group includes Bodenseewerk Geratechnik and Saab Dynamics.


Wing span8,0 m
Length overall 12,0 m
Weight Approx. 6.500 kg
Max take off weight Approx. 12500 kg
Armament Gun, Missiles, Bombs, Rockets and Stand off dispenser
  • internally-mounted 27mm gun
  • Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM)
  • Sidewinder or new generation Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles (SRAAM).
  • Sea-Skimming anti-ship missiles.
  • Advanced dispenser weapon systems (DWS).
  • Air-to-Ground weapons (Maverick, Rocket pods).
  • Active/passive Electronic Warfare (EW) systems.
  • Internal and external reconnaissance systems.
  • Three external fuel tanks.
  • Powerplant Volvo Aero RM 12 (General Electric F404J)
    Thrust 80,0 kN (18.000 lbs)
    Max Speed Supersonic at all altitude
    Maximum Speed Mach 1 15 at low altitude, Mach 2.0 at high altitude.
    ClimbLess than 2 minutes from brake release to 10km (33,000ft), approx. 3 minutes to 14km (46,000ft),
    Level Acceleration Approx. 30 seconds from Mach 0.5 to Mach 1.1 at low altitude.
    Turn Performance Sustained - approx. 20 4eglsec. Instantaneous - approx. 30 deg/sec.
    Max. Load Factor9g maximum sustained Nz

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    Maintained by Robert Sherman
    Originally created by John Pike
    Updated Thursday, March 11, 1999 7:47:49 PM