SAAB Gripen



 The Gripen Fourth Generation Fighter

The Gripen fighter aircraft is designed and built by Saab of Sweden and marketed by Gripen International, a joint venture by Saab and BAE Systems.

The first Gripen prototype flew in December 1988. This was the original A and B version, which was designed as an air defence fighter. The development of the C and D version, now also known as the EBS or export baseline version, started in the late 1990s, and by 2003 was flying with most of the functionalities intact. This development was a major upgrade of the Gripen A and B to produce a 4th generation multi-role fighter aircraft. The SAAF version is based on the EBS version with a few unique requirements embedded. The first aircraft destined for the SAAF was unveiled at Saab on 28 October 2005 and first flew on 11 November 2005.

General Description
The Gripen is described as a 4th generation swing-role fighter aircraft. Aerodynamically it utilises an inherently unstable design, coupled with fly-by-wire control, a canard-delta wing layout and a good power to weight ratio to provide a very agile aircraft capable of sustaining 9 g. Its fully integrated, digital avionics design allows for seamless integration of systems and data fusion, providing the aircrew with a superior awareness level and extremely benign flying characteristics. Aircrew awareness is further enhanced by the data link capability, linking air platforms and/or air platforms and ground stations. Very good survivability is ensured by a combination of small size, inherent stealth design characteristics, high agility and a state of the art active and passive electronic warfare system. The combination of the above factors ensures very high operational effectivity.

The Gripen system includes a state of the art, fully encompassing training system, centred on a Computer Based Training System (CBTS) and two Squadron Level Mission Trainers. Flying training is further enhanced by the availability of the dual seat aircraft. The systems are utilised by air and ground crews and are designed to cater for all levels of training, from initial conversion training to advanced operational/technical training.

Application and Placement
The Gripen C (single seat) and D (dual seat) fighter aircraft will replace the Cheetah C and D aircraft as the SAAF's fighter capability. They will be based at AFB Makhado in the facilities currently utilised by 2 Squadron. The unit will retain its number, ie 2 Squadron.

The Gripen C and D aircraft will be utilised in the following roles:

a. Air Defence
b. Surface Attack
c. Reconnaissance
d. Operational Conversion Training

Programme Status
The first Gripen, the flight test instrumented aircraft, arrived in South Africa on 17 July 2006. This aircraft will be utilised to conduct a Development Test and Evaluation (DT&E) phase under the auspices of Saab. This phase will be conducted at the Test Flight and Development Centre (TFDC) at AFB Overberg, also utilising the Denel Overberg Test Range (OTR). This aircraft will be handed over to the SAAF during the 1st quarter of 2008. Training of ground crew will commence in 2007. Deliveries of aircraft and training and logistic systems will commence during 2008, with flying training planned to commence in the 4th quarter of 2008. Deliveries of aircraft will be completed by the end of 2011, with full system handover to the SAAF at the beginning of 2012. The Gripen system is designed for a service life of at least thirty years





Gripen Fighter

Crew: 1-2
Length: 14.1 m (46 ft 3 in)
Wingspan: 8.4 m (27 ft 7 in)
Height: 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in)
Wing area: 25.54 m2 (274.9 ft2)
Empty weight:  6,620 kg (14,600 lb)
Loaded weight: 8,720 kg (19,200 lb) 
Max takeoff weight: 14,000 kg (31,000 lb)-
Powerplant: 1 Volvo Aero RM12 (GE404) afterburning turbofan, 54 kN dry, 80 kN with afterburner (12,000 lbf / 18,100 lbf)
Wheel track:  2.4 m (7 ft 10 in)
Maximum speed: Mach 1,8
Range: 1200km (650Nm) (500 mi)
Service ceiling: 15,000 m (50,000 ft)
Armament: 1 x 27mm Mauser BK-27 cannon (C version only)
Provision for up to 6 x short-range infrared A-A missiles
Provision for up to 4 x medium-range electro-magnetic A-A missiles
Provision for Mk81/Mk82 free-fall bombs and laser-guided bombs
The Gripen is also cleared for various air-to-surface missile


 Major enhancements

  • A full multi-role capability, ie air-to-air, air-to-ground and reconnaissance modes.

  • Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC).

  • Air refuelling capability.

  • On-board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS).

  • Upgrading of all major computers.

  • Upgraded avionics architecture.

  • Full colour displays.


 Suitability for the African Scenario

Based on the Swedish doctrine of deployed operations from road bases, the Gripen is ideally suited to the African environment. Its take-off and landing distances are very modest and together with the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), it supports short duration deployed operations, with very little ground-support equipment, from austere locations. The on-board Built-in Test Equipment reduces fault-finding time and, together with simple swapping of Line Replaceable Units (LRUs), the turn-around time is significantly reduced and the process simplified. The environmental control system (ECS) has also been adapted to cope with the cooling demands of the African scenario.

The communications and identification systems have been designed according to the SANDF Combat Net Interoperability Standards. Therefore, the aircraft avionics can interact with the SANDF Command and Control systems through the data link system, supporting the netcentric warfare concept. Regarding armament, the full range of locally produced missiles and bombs will be cleared for use on Gripen.


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