Sweden’s Gripen flagship fighter jet was first introduced into active service back in 1997. Since then, it has received several upgrades and has proved to be a worthy multi-role aircraft for several airforces around the world especially the Brazilian Air Force and the Swedish Air Force itself. The parent company SAAB has just finished developing the latest model of the Gripen fighter named Gripen E prototype 39-8 Smart Fighter and has a significant purpose in its development; Taking potential markets away from the US-Russian stronghold. The new fighter is a reliable jet that has every bit of advanced weaponry, avionics, radar and other capabilities that have made its counterparts famous throughout the world.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter plane of the USA will be most concerned with its development. We all know that the F-35 program is the most expensive fighter jet in history with over 1.5 trillion dollars spent in research, manufacturing and development. But, once it was made, only a handful of nations were cleared to purchase it including the United Kingdom itself. The aircraft itself is too expensive for many air forces, and now people have started to look for alternatives. Russia is also coming back into the game with its Su-35 air superiority fighter, a worthy challenger to top aircraft around the world. But, Sweden’s Gripen is also sending shockwaves around the world as it is not as expensive as the French Rafale or difficult to integrate like the Su-35 as many nations don’t have any experience with Russian jets at all. The Gripen follows NATO standards, is lightweight, has a fast turnaround time and has the ability to operate from small strips and even motorways. Its service of life of 50 years is also enviable as on the other side we have F-22 Raptors have already completed half of their lifecycles due to the shortened life spans. The USA hasn’t come up with a worthy fighter since the famous F-16 and both F-22 and F-35 are way too secret to be given out to other nations at all.
Gripen E also boasts a Delta-wing and canard configuration, a fly-by-wire avionics system, General Electric F414G engine that generate a fifth more thrust and also has increased take-off weight. Its AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar system is one of the best around and gives it the ability to be used as an air superiority fighter. It can take down multiple hostile targets down one by one, employ a radar jamming system and use a Missile Approach Warning System to warn the pilot of any incoming missiles.
Its 15.2 m length and 8.6 m width are quite small but its service ceiling, speed maneuverability, ten minute turnaround time and short engine replacement time makes it one of the best modern fighters in the world. Earlier versions of Gripen are already in service in many nations around the world like Sweden, South Africa, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Thailand. These latest Swedish planes are expected to enter operational service in 2019.