The Saab JAS 39 Gripen.

Would you ever imagine a car builder building a jet fighter plane? No you wouldn’t because Saab is an aircraft builder who used to make cars… In fact Saab Automotives went bankrupt in early 2012.

The Saab Gripen ("Giffin" or "Catching Bird" in English), is a lightweight

single-engine multirole fighter. It was designed to replace the Saab 35 Draken and 37 Viggen in the Swedish Air Force.

It is powered by the Volvo-Flygmotor RM12 engine, a derivative of the General Electric F404, and has a top speed of Mach 2.

The Gripen has a delta wing and canard configuration fly-by-wire technology.

Canards are smaller (mostly delta) wings placed in front of the major wings of the aircraf. They make sure the plane stays maneuverable even at speeds higher than the speed of sound ( > Mach 1). The Eurofighter Typhoon and the French Dassault Mirage also have a delta wing and canard configuration.




First Flight



Primary users 


Number built   

Multirole fighter

Saab AB/Saab Group

December 1988

November 1997


South African Air Force

Czech Air Force

Hungarian Air Force

Swedish Air Force



Other great advantage of the Gripen's canards : Since it needs only 650 meters to land and due to it's relatively small size compared to other jets, the JAS-39 is able to land on "normal roads". This makes it very hard to find for an eventual enemie when it's not airborne since it virtually doesn’t need a Airbase or Airport.