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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.
Following deliveries commencing in 1993, the first JAS 39A entered service with the Swedish Air Force in 1997. The fleet was upgraded to JAS 39C standard which included an air to air refuelling capability, improved avionics and the ability to generate oxygen on board to increase flight time. During 2011, the Gripen was deployed to police the no-fly zone over Libya where they flew over 650 combat missions. A total of 204 Gripens have been delivered to Sweden - 28 of which are leased to the Czech Republic and Hungary - with 98 currently in active service with the Swedish Air Force.
Sweden will be sending a pair of Gripens to this year's Air Tattoo both coming from F7 Wing at Såtenäs Air Base. A single seat JAS 39C will be performing in the flying display and a two seat JAS 39D will be appearing in the static display.
Photo Credit: Rich Cooper