JAS-39 Gripen Fighter
JAS-39 Gripen is the world's best light weight multi role combat aircraft in production. It is now fully operational with the Swedish air force with more than 115 (as of Jan 2002) delivered. As of January 2002 more than 25 000 missions have been flown resulting in more than 20 000 flying hours. This document will give a brief overview of the technical and operational aspects of the aircraft and programme so far.
Nov 2011, Switzerland has committed to purchase 22 JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets. Switzerland will opt for JAS-39 to replace its F-5E/F Tiger fighters. The purchase amount may increase to 33 new aircrafts.
Sweden deployed eight of its Saab Gripen fighters to Sigonella air base in Sicily over the weekend to join the expanding number of nations that have contributed to the NATO-led Operation Unified Protector.
A lead package of three JAS 39 Gripen C single-seat fighters left Ronneby air base in Sweden on 2 April and arrived in Sigonella later the same day after making a refuelling stop in Hungary. The aircraft are drawn from the air force's F17 wing. Video footage of their departure shows one carrying a Rafael Litening targeting/reconnaissance pod (below).
Oct 20: Maiden flight of first Czech Gripen
Status of the programme
By June 2002, more than 120 have been delivered. Two squadrons at F 7 are equipped and two at F 10, and they're being introduced at F 21 and F 17.
The Gripens were ordered in three production batches, of 30, 110 and 64 aircraft each, the last two with 14 two-seaters each. In the first two batches the single seaters are designated JAS 39A and the two seaters JAS 39B, in the third batch the single seater is JAS 39C and the two seater JAS 39D.
It can be noted that the 20 last aircraft in batch 2 will be to batch 3 standard, starting with the 107:th production single seater, c/n 39207, which will be delivered by mid-2002. In the long term, Gripens in Swedish service will either be to batch 2 or batch 3 standard.
Batch two is being delivered now, batch three will be delivered in 2003-06. The Swedish air force will repaint all required batch one Gripens to match the colour demarcations of later ones.
All aircraft from the three batches are to be operational by 2007.
One unit, SWAFRAP JAS 39, will be ready for international missions from 2004 onwards when it it will take over after SWAFRAP AJS 37 when the last Viggens are retired, and as like them it will primarily be tasked with photo reconnaissance.
But for budgetary reasons, it wasn't purchased.
Sensor fit would have comprised high resolution optronic daylight and IR sensors, able to work in conjunction with the aircraft's radar. Imagery will to be recorded on video and be available to the pilot during the mission.
First delivery for the Swedish air force was planned for 2002, and this would have allowed for the retirement of AJSF 37 Viggen in 2003.
In 2002 an optronic pod to be developed by Saab Avionics was selected. The fit will be similar to the above mentioned pod, but in addition two of them will be fitted with low altitude SKA 24 film cameras, reused from AJSF 37 Viggens, as the optronics fit, an Recon/Optical CA-270, will be optimized for medium altitudes. A planned upgrade with a IR line scanner and long range oblique imaging will happen by 2012.
The nine pods themselves will be built by Terma, several of the sensors by Recon/Optical and L-3 Communications will make the digital recorders.
They'll be able to be carried by JAS 39C/D and possibly by JAS 39A/Bs as well.
IOC is set for 2006, when the AJSF 37 Viggens will be retired.
Air to air missiles
Sidewinder was fully integrated at the time Gripen entered squadron service.
Captive RB 98 IRIS-T trials started in 1999.
Ground attack weapons
All ordered stand off bomblet dispensers BK 90, Mjölner, have been delivered by 1999.
Future ground attack weapons include laser guided bombs, a stand off precision missile and anti-radiation missiles. (These kinds of weapons weren't included in the initial planning as a priority, but the uses Gripen will be put to has changed a bit with the changing world situation, so it's a good thing it's a flexible and adaptable platform.)
Såtenäs hosts the new "Gripen centre" with training for all categories of personell.
[Gripen on road base with ground crew] The next wing to get Gripen was F 10 at Ängelholm with two squadrons, in 1999-2000, where they replaced first J 35J Draken (retired in 1999) and then AJS 37 Viggen. The first two were delivered on Oct 30:th 1999.
As of 2000, it was decided that the future peace time organization of the Swedish air force will have four fighter wings with eight squadrons of Gripen. At first plans were that these squadrons would be larger, to allow for a longer service life of the aircraft, but present plans are that some of the batch one will be declared surplus and become available for the government to sell or lease to another operator.
By the end of 2004, there will be two Gripen squadrons at each of:
Future Swedish air force versions and upgrades
larger, 150 x 200 mm colour MFDs
get further signature management measures
As internationalisation measures, Swedish Gripens (at least some) will
be adapted to foreign ground support equipment
Initial funding for a phased array radar has been approved.
FMV, the Swedish Defence Materials administration and the formal customer on behalf of the air force, will fund the conversion of one of the prototypes into a flying technology demonstrator. It will be ready in 2000-2002 and be used to study new weapons, avionics and propulsion.
Regarding propulsion, a more powerful engine (F414 or EJ200) may be fitted and it will fly with thrust vectoring, which would allow for a future tailless version.
As for radar, Ericsson Microwave Systems is planning on flying demonstrator of its AESA radar, on its own or with partners. It's planned to scan +-60 deg electronically and 60 deg mechanically in azimut, permitting scanning over a 240 deg arc and electronically +-60 deg up and downwards.
The Swedish air force is planning on having precision guided munition capability such as laser guided bombs operational on Gripen by 2003. This is a result of studies regarding what capabilities are required for international peace keeping missions.
As with all major weapon systems, there does not exist a "dollars per airframe" price tag. It's much more complicated than that, possibly with payment in a basket of currencies, to different schedules and with different offset deals included.
[Gripen during air refuelling trials] A NATO-compatible prototype has been readied. Apart from making it NATO-compatible in general, with connectors and so on, it has got a retractible aerial refuelling probe, which could be fitted without removing any other system. As missions can last much longer, this version also has an on board oxygen generating system.
In March 1998, Ericsson Saab Avionics was selected as the supplier of the export Gripen integrated countermeasures system, EWS 39, including warning, jamming and expendable countermeasures systems.
In May 1999, Denel Aviation was chosen to supply the NATO compatible stores pylons for all export Gripens.
The Czech Republic
After the lease expires, Hungary wants to buy the 14 Gripens. Also, they are to be upgraded to the most modern NATO/export standard. The first of the upgraded ones will be delivered in 2006.
On 1999 Sep 15 South Africa decided to order nine two seat multi-role Gripen fighters and take out an option for nineteen single seat Gripens, which be exercised by 2004.
The two seaters will be delivered in 2006-08 and if the option for the single seaters is exercised, they will be delivered in 2009-11.
On 1999 Dec 03 South Africa signed a contract for 24 Hawks and 28 Gripens. The Hawks will be delivered in 2005-2006, Gripen deliveries will begin in 2007 with nine two seaters and be concluded in 2012 with the last of the nineteen single seaters.
Contract value is 15.7 billion Rand, including VAT and other costs. The contract has sort of an "reverse option", providing for cancellation before 2004.
Flight test programme
[Gripen and pilots] During 1996, about 100 test flights were flown. Their part of the flight test programme concentrated on high alpha and beta flight as well as stall and spin recovery. The aim is to push the envelope in order to decide exactly where the limits should be put, so as to not compromise safety while affording combat pilots maximum performance with ease of handling.
Tests up to an alpha of 28 degrees were concluded with the standard flight control software release which has a preliminary alpha limit of 20 degrees, above which it returns the aircraft to 20 degrees or less.
The second phase with flights up to 55 degrees alpha were conducted with a software release without any alpha limit. The third phase went beyond that, to 110 degrees alpha, while retaining controllability.
It's expected that the final alpha limit will be in the region of 50 degrees.
The Manoeuver Load Limiter will let the pilots give full stick and rudder commands at all times, but by taking into account the present weight, what kinds of external loads are carried, speed, altitude and other data in order to obtain maximum performance enabling the pilots to concentrate on the tactical situation.