Gripen Fighter Jet Specs | It’s the result of joint development by Saab Military Aircraft, Ericsson Microwave Systems, Volvo Aero, and Celsius Aerotech.
First flight: 1988
Production units: 264
Unit cost (2014): $30 million to $60 million, depending on the version.
MilitaryEzyInfo.com | The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a light multi-role fighter aircraft, built by Saab Sweden in the late 1980s. It is the Swedish Air Force’s main fighter and a replacement for the obsolete Saab 35 Draken and Saab 37 Vigen. The acronym JAS stands for Jakt Fighter, Strike Fighter, and Spanning Scout.
Gripen Fighter Jet Specs: Full Details
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The JAS-39 was designed, first and foremost, to meet Sweden’s own defense needs. The small size of the country meant that the Swedish Air Force was not equipped with heavy air superiority fighters. Instead, their air force squadrons had to be able to react quickly at short notice and, to the extent possible, carry out almost all the duties of a contemporary air force.
Therefore, the Gripen was intended from the outset to be a light fighter. While considering multi-purpose capabilities, the requirement for air combat capability could not be relaxed. This resulted in a petite fuselage of only 14 meters in length, with a wingspan of 8.4 meters and a height of 4.5 meters, one size smaller than the famous light fighter, the F16.
But with the F404 engine built under license from General Dynamics, the Gripen could achieve a takeoff weight of 28,000 lbs and a top speed of Mach 2.0 with a single RM12 engine. With the added lift provided by the canards on both sides, the Gripen can take off with a gliding run of only 300 meters in extreme conditions. In other words, the Gripen can take off and land on many roads. The beauty of the Gripen is that it has a combat radius of only 800 kilometers. However, this is not a critical flaw, considering the practical needs of the Swedes.
Thanks to defense cooperation with NATO countries, the Gripen can be equipped with a variety of Swedish airborne weapons as well as more advanced weapons such as AIM120 air-launched missiles. This allows the Gripen to go up against the mass-produced Soviet MiG-29 front-line fighters, and not be outclassed by the larger Su-27. The electronic systems superiority of the NATO countries gives the Gripen a better radar and data link than most of its potential adversaries.
Like many of Saab’s previous products, the JAS-39 Gripen is well suited for deployment in the air forces of small and medium-sized countries. Although the end of the Cold War brought more American F16s and Russian MiG-29s to the international military market starting in the 1990s, the JAS-39 was able to capture its own slice of the pie between the two aircraft families.
Gripen Fighter Jet Specs: Design
The JAS 39 Gripen is a multi-role fighter and combat system that can be easily adapted to any mission. The aircraft is built in the Duck scheme, fitted with delta wings, and has no horizontal tail rotor. The design was aerodynamically unstable – constantly using onboard control systems to maintain flight.
The aircraft was designed to simplify maintenance and replacement of much of the onboard equipment. This reduces operating costs and also greatly simplifies the modernization of the aircraft. Approximately 67% of the aircraft’s onboard systems are manufactured in Sweden and other European countries. One-third of the elements, mainly the engines, are made in the United States.
One of the advantages of the Gripen is the ease with which Saab can adapt the aircraft for specific customers, as well as the opportunity for them to participate in the production and delivery of the system. The aircraft software is also open source and can be easily rewritten to suit the customer’s requirements. Most other modern aircraft are delivered off-the-shelf, with minimal disruption to the technology from the customer’s country.
A serious advantage of the Gripen, as well as the traditional Swedish fighter, is that it can essentially take off and land from short belts as well as from conventional civil routes. To this end, the aircraft’s landing gear has been significantly strengthened, and the wings have been moved to a vertical position for landing, acting as aerodynamic brakes.
Gripen Fighter Jet Specs: Electronic Warfare
One of the reasons that aircraft are easy to customize is that most avionics equipment is controlled by a single onboard computer that can be easily reprogrammed. Thanks to this, the aircraft’s software package is continually upgraded by improving the aircraft’s “firmware” (for example, it takes about 18 months to make any changes to the bit error rate of the Wigan fighter).
Gripen was originally created as part of a network-centric army in which all the major players: aircraft, intelligence, drones, ground vehicles, bases – constantly exchanged information in an automated mode.
The first A- and B-series fighters were equipped with the PS-05 radar developed by Ericsson and GEC-Marconi. The radar was able to detect airborne targets up to a distance of 120 km. The radar was later upgraded to more than double its performance.
The latest E-Series and F-Series fighters were equipped with the Raven ES radar with AFAR. In addition to the radar, the aircraft also received new infrared sensors.
Gripen Fighter Jet Specs: Performance
All aircraft produced before 2014 are powered by the Volvo RM12 engine, the Swedish version of the GE F404. A number of changes were made to the engine to improve the reliability of the powerplant (other aircraft were equipped with F404 engines in pairs). the JAS 39E and F were equipped with the new F414G, which increased thrust by 20%, allowing the fighter to overcome the sound barrier without afterburning (Mach 1.1, with weapon suspension). In addition to the F414G, Saab is also considering installing the Eurojet EJ200 engine (from the Eurofighter Typhoon), which can be equipped with a nozzle with deflected thrust vectoring.
Gripen Fighter Jet Specs: Armament
All Gripen fighters are armed with the 27mm Mauser BK-27 airborne gun. The aircraft has the capability to use the full range of NATO weapons, including AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, AGM-65 Lone Ranger air-to-surface missiles, and RBS-15 anti-ship missiles. The upgraded aircraft can also be equipped with the long-range missile MBDA Meteor, the short-range IRIS-T, and the high-precision bomb GBU-49.
Armament capabilities can be easily adjusted to meet customer requirements. Potentially, the Gripen can be equipped with almost any modern fighter weapon. The total weight of the weapon can be suspended up to 6.5 tons.
Gripen Fighter Jet Specs: Upgrades
JAS 39A: Basic serial version, introduced into the Swedish Air Force in 1996. Later, it was upgraded to version C.
JAS 39B: Basic dual version; the aircraft is extended by 0.66 meters over the A version to accommodate the copilot’s tandem, for special missions and crew training.
JAS 39C: Modification of Version A to NATO standards.
JAS 39D: Double Modification JAS 39C
Gripen NG: In-depth Upgrade Program The JAS 39E and JAS 39F aircraft are powered by GE F414G engines, Raven ES radar with AFAR, and increased weight, range, and advanced armament capabilities.
The JAS 39E is a single-seat version created by the Gripen NG program. The aircraft was supplied to the Swedish and Brazilian Air Forces (supplied to Brazil under the number F-39E). The first flight was conducted in 2016.
JAS 39F: A two-seat version of the JAS 39E.
Gripen Fighter Jet Specs: Manufacturing and Supply
Production of the JAS 39 Gripen began in 1987. More than 250 were produced in 2017, the majority of which (74 JAS 39S and 24 JAS 39D) are in service with the Swedish Air Force. In addition, the aircraft is in service in Hungary, the Czech Republic, South Africa, and Thailand. The British Aviation Academy (Imperial Test Pilot School) has one fighter in its fleet. In addition, Saab has received orders for a combination of fighter aircraft from the Brazilian Air Force (more than 100) and the Swedish Air Force (60 additional fighters to the current order book). Saab is negotiating deliveries with Botswana, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Finland, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Slovakia, and Switzerland.
The Gripen story
The late 1970s was when the new fourth-generation combat aircraft was created. The United States had already developed the latest F-15 and F-16 fighters, while the Soviet Union had completed the development of the Su-27 and MiG-29. In these circumstances, it was clear that the Swedish Saab 35 Draken and Saab 37 Vigen were morally obsolete and could no longer meet the requirements of the time. The Swedish Air Force requested the development of a new machine: a more versatile and maneuverable machine, capable of speeds up to Mach 2, operating on short runways (800 meters long and 7 meters wide). During the development process, active research was conducted on the new generation of structures already created, starting with the F-16, F/A-18, F-20 (a shock-modified Northrop F-5 that was never mass-produced), and the Mirage 2000.
In 1979, the government officially launched the JAS program (Jakt – fighter, Attack – attack, Spaning – reconnaissance), which involved the creation of a single general-purpose combat aircraft. 1980 saw the founding of Industrigruppen JAS, which, in addition to Saab, included Scania, LM Ericsson, Volvo, and others. The image of the plane began to take shape.
The image of the aircraft began to take shape. It was a single-engine light fighter, built to the Duck scheme, equipped with an electric remote control system. The powerplant, the Volvo-Flygmotor RM12 engine, was a licensed version of the General Electric F404 engine (these engines were installed in the F/A-18, F-117, earlier versions of the Rafale and some other aircraft).
In 1982, the Swedish Parliament approved a planned budget of 25.7 billion kronor for the construction of five prototypes and 30 production vehicles. Modified Viggen fighters were used to test these systems. Soon after, the JAS 39 project was named Gripen.
The first JAS 39 Gripen was publicly unveiled in 1987 on the occasion of Saab’s 50th anniversary. The aircraft was due to take off that year, but preparations were delayed due to problems with the control system. The Gripen rolled off the production line in 1988. In 1989, a prototype crashed (the pilot escaped with a broken elbow) and work was halted. The cause of the crash was a control system failure, and Saab had to seriously upgrade the plane’s software, which took 15 months.
In 1992, a formal contract was signed with the Swedish Air Force for 110 aircraft. By 1996, Saab had five prototypes and two production aircraft, and deliveries became active in 1997 when an additional batch of 64 modernized C and D variants was ordered; these aircraft entered the fleet between 2002 and 2008.
The Gripen proved to be a fairly successful aircraft, and other countries began to show interest in it, and in 1995 Saab and British Aerospace reached an agreement to form a joint venture with Gripen International to modify the fighter to NATO standards (Sweden is not a NATO member) and to sell and service the aircraft around the world. However, joint work did not last long. By 2004, difficulties in the negotiations, as well as some facts of corruption, led BAE to sell its shares in Saab and, in fact, leave the project.
In 2007, Saab signed an important military cooperation agreement with Norway (Thales Norway). The Swedes’ main interest was to participate in a tender for the supply of a new generation of fighter jets to the Norwegian Air Force. However, there were difficulties in calculating the cost of the contract and the supply of some elements, and eventually, the US F-35 Lightning II fighter was awarded the contract. As it later turned out, the competitor’s victory was accompanied by rather heavy lobbying by the U.S. diplomatic corps and U.S. system suppliers.
Also in 2007, Denmark’s Terma A/S joined Gripen International’s cooperation. Although the Danish Air Force also ordered the F-35 (Denmark was one of the original members of the JSF F-35 program), Terma A/S continued its successful cooperation with Saab.
In 2007, work began on a major upgrade of the JAS 39 model. The result was the newest model, the Gripen NG. which was equipped with an upgraded version of the General Electric F414G engine from the F/A-18 Super Hornet. The takeoff weight was increased from 14 tons to 16 tons. Refinement of the tank layout increased the fuel capacity by 40%. The radius of action of the new tanks was suspended to 1300 km. The aircraft was fitted with the latest radar Raven ES-05 and AFAR (Raven ES is a Swedish variant of the Italian radar Selex ES, built by Leonardo). In 2009, the aircraft reached supersonic cruising speed (Mach 1.2, no afterburning).
In addition, since the late 1990s, Saab has been considering the possibility of building a JAS 39 boat model. A light aircraft with a high thrust-to-weight ratio could prove to be very promising in this market segment. The official start of this work was in 2009 when India took an interest in the topic. Eventually, the Russian MiG-29K came to the Indian carriers, but the Brazilian Navy proved to be interested in the Sea Lion Peng.