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The SAAB JAS 39 Gripen is a light-weight multi-role fighter indigenously developed by Sweden to replace the legendary Draken and Viggen with the Swedish Air Force. The Gripen is powered by the Volvo RM12 turbofan which is a licence built version of the General Electric F404, the same engine that powers the original versions of the F-18 Hornet. The Gripen has been designed to operate from roads and snow-covered runways that are less than 500 metres long. Production deliveries of the JAS 39A began in 1993 and the upgraded JAS 39C was delivered from 2003. A heavily upgraded version designated the JAS 39E has been developed in conjunction with Brazil with new avionics, a heavier payload, strengthened airframe and undercarriage and powered by the F414 - the same engine as used in the Super Hornet.
Hungary originally signed a lease for 14 JAS-39A/B Gripens in 2003 which were to be delivered after being upgraded to JAS-39C/D standard. Whilst Hungarian lease included an option to purchase, the nation has continued to extend the lease where possible. In 2021 Hungary signed to modernise their Gripens with a new radar, software and more capable weapons such as the IRIS-T short range air to air missile.
The 59th Tactical Wing based at Kecskemét Air Base will be providing a single JAS-39C Gripen for static display at this year's Air Tattoo. Photo credit: Duncan Chase