Sweden’s Defense Export Agency FMV has delivered three more Saab JAS 39 Gripens to Thailand, bringing Thailand’s Gripen fleet to nine. Three additional Gripen fighters are to be delivered to the Thai air force this year, completing the procurement process. Thailand first ordered six of the multirole fighter in 2008. The deal included a Saab 340 AEW and a Saab 340 for transport and training. Comprehensive logistic support, pilot and technician were also part of the package. A second agreement was in late 2010 for six additional Gripens of the C variant, as well as a a Saab 340 with Erieye radar and the Swedish RB 15F missile system. The Gripen is a single-engine aircraft with a maximum speed of 1,320 miles per hour at altitude and a service ceiling of 50,000 feet. Its combat radius is 432 miles. Weaponry includes a cannon, rockets and a variety of missiles and bombs (Read More).
- Thailand & Gripen
The Royal Thai Air Force ordered six Gripens (two single-seat C-models and four two-seat D-models) in February 2008 to replace some F-5s, with deliveries beginning in 2011. Six more Gripen Cs were ordered in November 2010 with deliveries from 2013. The Gripens are to be based atSurat Thani Airbase. The first of the six aircraft were delivered on 22 February 2011. It is believed that Thailand may eventually order as many as 40 Gripens. The next three were delivered on 2 April 2013. The remaining three will be delivered in late 2013.
- General Characteristic
The Saab JAS 39 Gripen (Griffin) is a lightweight single-engine multirole fighter manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab. It was designed to replace the Saab 35 Draken and 37 Viggen in the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet). The Gripen has a delta wing andcanard configuration with relaxed stability design and fly-by-wire technology. It is powered by the Volvo-Flygmotor RM12 engine, a derivative of the General Electric F404, and has a top speed of Mach 2.
In 1979, the Swedish government began development studies for an aircraft capable of fighter, attack and reconnaissance missions to replace the Saab 35 Draken and 37 Viggen. A new design from Saab was selected and developed as the JAS 39. Comparatively small relative to similar fighters, the Gripen has eight hardpoints that allow it to carry various armaments and equipment. It is also fitted with a single 27 mm Mauser BK-27 cannon.
The JAS 39 first flew in 1988. After early problems with avionics were rectified, the aircraft entered service in 1997. Saab has since cooperated with other aerospace companies in marketing the aircraft internationally, and has achieved moderate success in Central Europe, South Africa and Southeast Asia. More than 240 Gripens have been delivered or ordered as of 2012.
- Part of a Network
The Gripen was designed to operate as one component of a networked national defence system; as such, information can be exchanged automatically in real-time between Gripen aircraft and ground facilities. In order to deliver a high level of manoeuvrability in conjunction with good short takeoff and landing performance, Saab chose to adopt a delta wing–canard design with relaxed stability. The Gripen is powered by the Volvo-Flygmotor RM12 engine, a derivative of General Electric F404; changes include greater thrust and more stringent birdstrike protection.
- Favorable Flight Characteristic
The Gripen has favourable flight characteristics, such as low drag properties, which enables faster and more efficient flight, as well as either increased range or a larger equipment payload. To allow operations from short strips, the Gripen is capable of maintaining a fast sink rate and is strengthened to withstand the stresses of conducting short landings. The canards decrease landing distance, angling downwards to act as air brakes. The main wing is also fitted with flaps and elevons to change the flow of air around the wing.
- Swing Role Aircraft
Saab describes the Gripen as a “swing-role aircraft”, stating that it is capable of performing various mission profiles during a single sortie. A unique aspect of the Gripen’s capabilities is that it can rapidly rearm and sortie from Forward Operating Bases and even public roads when required. Saab’s campaign director for India Edvard de la Motte commented that: “If you buy Gripen, select where you want your weapons from. Israel, Sweden, Europe, US… South America. It’s up to the customer”.
The Gripen is typically capable of carrying up to 14,330 lb of armament or equipment. Munitions include various missiles, laser-guided bombs, and a single 27 mm Mauser BK-27 cannon;missiles include the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile, the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile, and the RBS-15 anti-ship missile. External reconnaissance and targeting modules, such as the LITENING targeting pod, have been employed upon the Gripen by some operators. The Gripen’s Ternav tactical navigation system combines information from multiple onboard systems such as the air data computer, radar altimeter, and GPS to continuously calculate the Gripen’s location.
- Source Code
The Gripen’s source code and technical documentation is made available to operators, which allows for the integration of additional munitions and equipment to be performed by the operator, as well as other improvements to the aircraft. In 2010, the Swedish Air Force’s Gripen fleet had finished receiving the MS19 upgrade which enabled the use of a range of new weapons, including the long-range MBDA Meteor missile, the short-range IRIS-T missile and the GBU-49 laser-guided bomb. A subsequent upgrade programme, MS20, being conducted from 2011 to 2013, includes full compatibility with the Meteor missile.
- Short Turnaround
During the Cold War, the Swedish Armed Forces were preparing to defend against a possible invasion from the Soviet Union; in order to maintain an air defence capacity, Sweden elected to disperse its military aircraft across the country in the event of an invasion. The JAS 39 was designed with the ability to take off from snow-covered landing strips of only 800-metre (2,600 ft). Another requirement for this role was a short-turnaround time of just ten minutes; a team composed of a technician and five conscripts would be able to re-arm, refuel, and perform basic inspections and servicing inside that time window before returning to flight.
- Long Life
One principle of the airframe’s design was that many components do not require maintenance or are of low mainenance cost; combined with the aircraft’s maintenance-friendly layout, it should mean that the Gripen will have a longer life than the preceding Viggen fighter, according to one source this is expected to be around 50 years. Each aircraft is fitted with a Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) that monitors and records the performance of various systems, and provide information to technicians to assist in servicing the Gripen.
- Low Cost
Additionally, the manufacturer operates a continuous improvement programme for the Gripen; towards this end, information from the HUMS and other Gripen systems can be submitted for analysis. According to Jane’s Information Group, in 2012 the Gripen has an operational cost per flight hour of $4,700; this compares to $7,000 for the F-16 and is generally lower than other western fighters.