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Sweden’s Leading Fighter Jet: SAAB Gripen

The Saab JAS 39 Gripen (English: griffin) is a light single-engine multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab AB. The Gripen has a delta wing and canard configuration with relaxed stability design and fly-by-wire flight controls. Various versions have been built, grouped as A-, C- and E-series.

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, first flying in 1988, delivery of first serial production airplane occurred in 1993, and entered service with the Swedish Air Force in 1996.

The Gripen has seven external hardpoints for carrying payloads: one at each wingtip, two under each wing and one on the fuselage centreline. The air-to-air missiles include MBDA (formerly Matra BAe Dynamics) MICA, Raytheon AIM-120B AMRAAM and Lockheed Martin / Raytheon Sidewinder AIM-9L (Swedish Air Force Designation RB74). Sidewinder, mounted on the wingtips, is an all-aspect attack, short-range missile for enhanced dogfight capability. Air-to-surface missiles include the radar-guided Saab RBS15F anti-ship missile and Raytheon Maverick missile.

The Gripen can fly at a maximum speed of 2,470km/h. The combat radius and ferry range of the aircraft are 800km and 3,200km respectively. Its service ceiling is 15,240m. The aircraft weighs around 5,700kg and its maximum take-off weight is 14,000kg. The RM12 engine, supplied by Volvo Aero, is a development of the GE F404 engine from General Electric. A digital engine control system automatically monitors the engine parameters and switches on the back-up systems if required. A condition monitoring system registers the flight data.

There are 158 Gripens in service as of 2016, with operators including Brazil, Czech Republic, Sweden, South Africa, Thailand, Hungary and the United Kingdom.

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