The Gripen is a multirole fighter aircraft, intended as a lightweight and agile aerial platform with advanced, highly adaptable avionics.
It has canard control surfaces that contribute a positive lift force at all speeds, while the generous lift from the delta wing compensates for the rear stabiliser producing negative lift at high speeds, increasing induced drag.
Being intentionally unstable and employing digital fly-by-wire flight controls to maintain stability removes many flight restrictions, improves manoeuvrability, and reduces drag.
The Gripen also has good short take-off performance, being able to maintain a high sink rate and strengthened to withstand the stresses of short landings.
A pair of air brakes are located on the sides of the rear fuselage; the canards also angle downward to act as air brakes and decrease landing distance.
It is capable of flying at a 70–80 degrees angle of attack.
To enable the Gripen to have a long service life, roughly 50 years, Saab designed it to have low maintenance requirements.
Major systems such as the RM12 engine and PS-05/A radar are modular to reduce operating cost and increase reliability.
The Gripen was designed to be flexible, so that newly developed sensors, computers, and armaments could be integrated as technology advances.
The aircraft was estimated to be roughly 67% sourced from Swedish or European suppliers and 33% from the US.
One key aspect of the Gripen programme that Saab have been keen to emphasize has been technology-transfer agreements and industrial partnerships with export customers.
The Gripen is typically customized to customer requirements, enabling the routine inclusion of local suppliers in the manufacturing and support processes.
A number of South African firms provide components and systems including the communications suite and electronic warfare systems for the Gripens operated by the South African Air Force.
Operators also have access to the Gripen’s source code and technical documentation, allowing for upgrades and new equipment to be independently integrated.
Some export customers intend to domestically assemble the Gripen; it has been proposed that Brazilian aerospace manufacturer Embraer may produce Gripens for other export customers as well.
A-series single seater, JAS 39A or Gripen A
Initial version that entered service with the Swedish Air Force in 1996.
A number have been upgraded to the C standard.
A-series two-seater, JAS 39B or Gripen B
Two-seat version of the 39A for training, specialized missions and type conversion.
To fit the second crew member and life support systems, the internal cannon and an internal fuel tank were removed, and the airframe lengthened 0.66 m (2 ft 2 in).
C-series single seater, JAS 39C, or Gripen C
NATO-compatible version with extended capabilities in terms of armament, electronics, etc.
Can be refuelled in flight.
Variant was first delivered on 6 September 2002.
C-series two-seater, JAS 39D, or Gripen D
Two-seat version of the 39C, with similar alterations as the 39B.
E-series single seater Gripen NG
Improved version following on from the Gripen Demo technology demonstrator.
Changes from the JAS 39C/D include the more powerful F414G engine, Raven ES-05 AESA radar, increased fuel capacity and payload, two additional hard points, and other improvements.
These improvements have reportedly increased the Gripen NG costs to an estimated 24,000 Swiss Francs (US$27,000) per hour and increased the flyaway cost to 100 million Swiss Francs (US$113M).
E-series single seater, JAS 39E or Gripen E
Single-seat production version developed from the Gripen NG program, priced at US$85 million a unit.
Sweden and Brazil have ordered the variant.
Brazil’s designation for this variant is F-39E
E-series two-seater, JAS 39F or Gripen F
Two-seat version of the E variant. Eight ordered by Brazil, to be developed and assembled in São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil; planned for pilot training and combat, being optimized for back seat air battle management, with jamming, information warfare and network attack, besides weapon system officer and electronic warfare roles.
Brazil’s designation for the variant is F-39F.
1 JAS 39E / 2 JAS 39F
15.2 m (49 ft 10 in) JAS 39E
15.9 m (52 ft) JAS 39F
8.6 m (28 ft 3 in)
4.5 m (14 ft 9 in)
30 m2 (320 sq ft)
8,000 kg (17,637 lb)
Max take-off weight
16,500 kg (36,376 lb)
3,400 kg (7,500 lb) (internal)
5,100 kg (11,200 lb)
1 × General Electric RM16 (F414-GE-39E) afterburning turbofan engine,
1 × 27 mm Mauser BK-27 revolver cannon with 120 rounds (single-seat models only)
10 (three hard points under fuselage, two under each wing, one on each wing tip, and one dedicated for FLIR / LD / Recon pod) with a capacity of 5,300 kg (11,700 lb), with provisions to carry combinations of:
9 × IRIS-T (Rb.98), AIM-9 Sidewinder (Rb.74)
7 × MBDA Meteor (Rb.101)
2 × KEPD.350
6 × Rbs.15F anti-ship missile
7 × GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb
8 × Mark 82 bombs
16 × GBU-39 SDB
12 × Alternative small-diameter glide bomb
1 × ALQ-TLS electronic countermeasures (ECM) pod
1 × Digital Joint Reconnaissance Pod
1 × Rafael Reccelite Reconnaissance Pod
1 × Litening III Targeting pod
Selex ES-05 Raven AESA radar
Skyward-G IRST system
Air-to-air and air-to-surface tactical data link system
Wide Area Display, WAD, single screen display
Targo helmet mounted display (HMD)
ANVIS advanced night vision system/head up display (HUD).