The JAS-39 Gripen: Sweden’s 4+ Generation Wild Card
Sweden current government commits to stronger defense, officially wants 10 more JAS-39Es.
April 22/14: +10. Party representatives from all 4 parties in the current center-right governing coalition make a public statement, officially committing to more defense spending in light of Russia’s recent actions. The increase would be about $760 million per year (SEK 5 billion), and the main beneficiary will be the submarine fleet, which would add 3 newly-designed boats to the 2 in operation. The second beneficiary will be the JAS-39E fleet, which would grow to 70 planes. The 3rd priority would be an improved air defense system.
In declining order of party seats, the spokespeople were Fredrik Reinfeldt (Moderate), Jan Björklund (Liberal People’s), Annie Loof (Centre) and Goran Hagglund (Christian Democrats). This is a minority government, which currently has a majority because of the Sweden Democrats, a right-wing populist party that’s described as ultra-nationalist, but includes an influential contingent of Chaldean Christians who immigrated from the Middle East. The party is outside the formal governing coalition, but very disinclined to vote with the left-wing opposition parties. Sources: Dagens Nyheter, “Sa vill regeringen starka forsvaret” | The Local – Sweden, “Sweden to beef up air force to counter Russia”.
As a neutral country with a long history of providing for its own defense against all comers, Sweden also has a long tradition of building excellent high-performance fighters with a distinctive look. From the long-serving Saab-35 Draken (“Dragon,” 1955-2005) to the Mach 2, canard-winged Saab-37 Viggen (“Thunderbolt,” 1971-2005), Swedish fighters have stressed short-field launch from dispersed/improvised air fields, world-class performance, and leading-edge design. This record of consistent project success is nothing short of amazing, especially for a country whose population over this period has ranged from 7-9 million people.
This is DID’s FOCUS Article for background, news, and contract awards related to the JAS-39 Gripen (“Griffon”), a canard-winged successor to the Viggen and one of the world’s first 4+ generation fighters. Gripen remains the only lightweight 4+ generation fighter type in service, its performance and operational economics are both world-class, and it has become one of the most recognized fighter aircraft on the planet. Unfortunately for its builders, that recognition has come from its appearance in Saab and Volvo TV commercials, rather than from hoped-for levels of military export success. With its 4+ generation competitors clustered in the $60-120+ million range vs. the Gripen’s claimed $40-60 million, is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Sweden’s lightweight fighter? In 2013 a win in Brazil started to answer that question.
JAS-39: The Gripen Program
Saab’s JAS-39A-D Gripens
Partnerships & Production
JAS-39 Gripen: The Way Forward
The Next Gripens: Industrial
JAS-39 Gripen: Major Events
2006 and earlier
JAS-39 Gripen: Contracts & Awards
2012 – 2013
2010 – 2011
2008 – 2009
2007 and Earlier
Additional Readings & Sources
JAS-39 Gripen: The Platform
Export Competitions: Highlights
News & Views
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