Saab JAS 39 Gripen, Aviation 72 updates and Air Commander Latest Announcement !

Saab Gripen at the Kaivopuisto air show

The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a light single-engine multirole fighter aircraft 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 and canard configuration with relaxed stability design and fly-by-wire flight controls. It is powered by the Volvo RM12, and has a top speed of Mach 2. Later aircraft are modified for NATO interoperability standards and to undertake air to air refuelling.

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, first flying in 1988. Following two crashes during flight development and subsequent alterations to the aircraft’s flight control software, the Gripen entered service with the Swedish Air Force in 1997. Upgraded variants, featuring more advanced avionics and adaptations for longer mission times, began entering service in 2003.

To market the aircraft internationally, Saab formed partnerships and collaborative efforts with multiple overseas aerospace companies. One example of such efforts was Gripen International, a joint partnership between Saab and BAE Systems formed in 2001. Gripen International was responsible for marketing the aircraft, and was heavily involved in the successful export of the type to South Africa; the organization was later dissolved amidst allegations of bribery being employed to secure foreign interest and sales. On the export market, the Gripen has achieved moderate success in sales to nations in Central Europe, South Africa and Southeast Asia; bribery has been suspected in some of these procurements, but authorities closed the investigation in 2009.

A further version, designated Gripen JAS 39E/F, is under development as of 2014; it has been referred to as Gripen NG or Super-JAS. The changes include the adoption of a new powerplant, the General Electric F414G, an active electronically scanned array radar, and significantly increased internal fuel capacity. Saab has proposed other derivatives, including a navalised Sea Gripen for carrier operations and an optionally manned aircraft for unmanned operations. Sweden and Brazil have ordered the Gripen E/F and Switzerland initially selected it for procurement. As of 2013, more than 247 Gripens have been built.

JAS 39B Gripen in flight

In the late 1970s, Sweden sought to replace its ageing Saab 35 Draken and Saab 37 Viggen. The Swedish Air Force required an affordable Mach 2 aircraft with good short-field performance for a defensive dispersed basing plan in the event of invasion; the plan included 800 m long by 17 m wide rudimentary runways that were part of the Bas 90 system. One goal was for the aircraft to be smaller than the Viggen while equalling or improving on its payload-range characteristics. Early proposals included the Saab 38, also called B3LA, intended as an attack aircraft and trainer, and the A 20, a development of the Viggen that would have capabilities as a fighter, attack and sea reconnaissance aircraft. Several foreign designs were also studied, including the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, the Northrop F-20 Tigershark and the Dassault Mirage 2000. Ultimately, the Swedish government opted for a new fighter to be developed by Saab (Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolag).

In 1979, the government began a study calling for a versatile platform capable of “JAS”, standing for Jakt (air-to-air), Attack (air-to-surface), and Spaning (reconnaissance), indicating a multirole, or swingrole, fighter aircraft that can fulfill multiple roles during the same mission. Several Saab designs were reviewed, the most promising being “Project 2105” (redesignated “Project 2108” and, later, “Project 2110”), recommended to the government by the Defence Materiel Administration (Försvarets Materielverk, or FMV). In 1980, Industrigruppen JAS (IG JAS, “JAS Industry Group”) was established as a joint venture by Saab-Scania, LM Ericsson, Svenska Radioaktiebolaget, Volvo Flygmotor and Försvarets Fabriksverk, the industrial arm of the Swedish armed forces.

The preferred aircraft was a single-engine, lightweight single-seater, embracing fly-by-wire technology, canards, and an aerodynamically unstable design. The powerplant selected was the Volvo-Flygmotor RM12, a license-built derivative of the General Electric F404−400; engine development priorities were weight reduction and lowering component count. On 30th June 1982, with approval from the Riksdag, the FMV issued contracts worth SEK 25.7 billion to Saab, covering five prototypes and an initial batch of 30 production aircraft. By January 1983, a Viggen was converted to a flying test aircraft for the JAS 39’s intended avionics, such as the fly-by-wire controls. The JAS 39 received the name Gripen (griffin) via a public competition, which is the heraldry on Saab’s logo.

JAS 39 Gripen taxiing in after display, Farnborough 2006

Saab rolled out the first Gripen on 26th April 1987, marking its 50th anniversary. Originally planned to fly in 1987, the first flight was delayed by 18 months due to issues with the flight control system. On 9th December 1988, the first prototype (serial number 39-1) took its 51-minute maiden flight with pilot Stig Holmström at the controls. During the test programme, concern surfaced about the aircraft’s avionics, specifically the fly-by-wire flight control system (FCS), and the relaxed stability design. On 2nd February 1989, this issue led to the crash of the prototype during an attempted landing at Linköping; the test pilot Lars Rådeström walked away with a broken elbow. The cause of the crash was identified as pilot-induced oscillation, caused by problems with the FCS’s pitch-control routine.

In response to the crash Saab and US firm Calspan introduced software modifications to the aircraft. A modified Lockheed NT-33A was used to test these improvements, which allowed flight testing to resume 15 months after the accident. On 8th August 1993, production aircraft 39102 was destroyed in an accident during an aerial display in Stockholm. Test pilot Rådeström lost control of the aircraft during a roll at low altitude when the aircraft stalled, forcing him to eject. Saab later found the problem was high amplification of the pilot’s quick and significant stick command inputs. The ensuing investigation and flaw correction delayed test flying by several months, resuming in December 1993.

The first order included an option for another 110, which was exercised in June 1992. Batch II consisted of 96 one-seat JAS 39As and 14 two-seat JAS 39Bs. The JAS 39B variant is 66 cm (26 in) longer than the JAS 39A to accommodate a second seat, which also necessitated the deletion of the cannon and a reduced internal fuel capacity. By April 1994, five prototypes and two series-production Gripens had been completed; but a beyond-visual-range missile (BVR) had not yet been selected. A third batch was ordered in June 1997, composed of 50 upgraded single-seat JAS 39Cs and 14 JAS 39D two-seaters, known as ‘Turbo Gripen’, with NATO compatibility for exports. Batch III aircraft, delivered between 2002 and 2008, possess more powerful and updated avionics, in-flight refuelling capability via retractable probes on the aircraft’s starboard side, and an on-board oxygen-generating system for longer missions. In-flight refueling was tested via a specially equipped prototype (39‐4) used in successful trials with a Royal Air Force VC10 in 1998.

Gripen engine nozzle

The Gripen is a multirole fighter aircraft, intended as a lightweight and agile aerial platform with advanced, highly adaptable avionics. It has canard control surfaces that contribute a positive lift force at all speeds, while the generous lift from the delta wing compensates for the rear stabilizer producing negative lift at high speeds, increasing induced drag. Being intentionally unstable and employing digital fly-by-wire flight controls to maintain stability removes many flight restrictions, improves maneuverability, and reduces drag. The Gripen also has good short takeoff performance, being able to maintain a high sink rate and strengthened to withstand the stresses of short landings. A pair of air brakes are located on the sides of the rear fuselage; the canards also angle downward to act as air brakes and decrease landing distance. It is capable of flying at a 70–80 degrees angle of attack.

To enable the Gripen to have a long service life, roughly 50 years, Saab designed it to have low maintenance requirements. Major systems such as the RM12 engine and PS-05/A radar are modular to reduce operating cost and increase reliability. The Gripen was designed to be flexible, so that newly developed sensors, computers, and armaments could be integrated as technology advances. The aircraft was estimated to be roughly 67% sourced from Swedish or European suppliers and 33% from the US.

One key aspect of the Gripen program that Saab have been keen to emphasize has been technology-transfer agreements and industrial partnerships with export customers. The Gripen is typically customized to customer requirements, enabling the routine inclusion of local suppliers in the manufacturing and support processes. A number of South African firms provide components and systems – including the communications suite and electronic warfare systems – for the Gripens operated by South African Air Force. Operators also have access to the Gripen’s source code and technical documentation, allowing for upgrades and new equipment to be independently integrated. Some export customers intend to domestically assemble the Gripen; it has been proposed that Brazilian aerospace manufacturer Embraer may produce Gripens for other export customers as well.

Saab Gripen NG demonstrator at RIAT 2010

All of the Gripen’s avionics are fully integrated using five MIL-STD-1553B digital data buses, in what is described as “sensor fusion”. The total integration of the avionics makes the Gripen a “programmable” aircraft, allowing software updates to be introduced over time to increase performance and allow for additional operational roles and equipment. The Ada programming language was adopted for the Gripen, and is used for the primary flight controls on the final prototypes from 1996 onwards and all subsequent production aircraft. The Gripen’s software is continuously being improved to add new capabilities, as compared to the preceding Viggen, which was updated only in an 18-month schedule.

Much of the data generated from the onboard sensors and by cockpit activity is digitally recorded throughout the length of an entire mission. This information can be replayed in the cockpit or easily extracted for detailed post-mission analysis using a data transfer unit that can also be used to insert mission data to the aircraft. The Gripen, like the Viggen, was designed to operate as one component of a networked national defence system, which allows for automatic exchange of information in real-time between Gripen aircraft and ground facilities. According to Saab, the Gripen features “the world’s most highly developed data link”. 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.

The Gripen entered service using the PS-05/A pulse-Doppler X band multi-mode radar, developed by Ericsson and GEC-Marconi, which is based on the latter’s advanced Blue Vixen radar for the Sea Harrier that also served as the basis for the Eurofighter’s CAPTOR radar. The all-weather radar is capable of locating and identifying targets 120 km (74 mi) away, and automatically tracking multiple targets in the upper and lower spheres, on the ground and sea or in the air. It can guide several beyond visual range air-to-air missiles to multiple targets simultaneously. Saab stated the PS-05/A is able to handle all types of air defense, air-to-surface, and reconnaissance missions, and is developing a Mark 4 upgrade to it. The Mark 4 version has a 150% increase in high-altitude air-to-air detection ranges, detection and tracking of smaller targets at current ranges, 140% improvement in air-to-air mode at low altitude, and full integration of modern weapons such as the AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM, AIM-9X Sidewinder, and MBDA Meteor missiles.

The future Gripen E/F will use a new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, Raven ES-05, based on the Vixen AESA radar family from Selex ES. Among other improvements, the new radar is to be capable of scanning over a greatly increased field of view and improved range. In addition, the new Gripen integrates the Skyward-G Infra-red search and track (IRST) sensor, which is capable of passively detecting thermal emissions from air and ground targets in the aircraft’s vicinity. The sensors of the Gripen E are claimed to be able to detect low radar cross-section (RCS) targets at beyond visual range. Targets are tracked by a “best sensor dominates” system, either by onboard sensors or through the Transmitter Auxiliary Unit (TAU) data link function of the radar.

Underside of a Swedish Gripen in flight, 2012

The primary flight controls are compatible with the Hands On Throttle-And-Stick (HOTAS) control principle – the centrally mounted stick, in addition to flying the aircraft, also controls the cockpit displays and weapon systems. A triplex, digital fly-by-wire system is employed on the Gripen’s flight controls, with a mechanical backup for the throttle. Additional functions, such as communications, navigational and decision support data, can be accessed via the up front control panel, directly above the central cockpit display. The Gripen includes the EP-17 cockpit display system, developed by Saab to provide pilots with a high level of situational awareness and reduces pilot workload through intelligent information management. The Gripen features a sensor fusion capability, information from onboard sensors and databases is combined, automatically analysed, and useful data is presented to the pilot via a wide field-of-view head-up display, three large multi-function colour displays, and optionally a helmet mounted display system (HMDS).

Of the three multi-function displays (MFD), the central display is for navigational and mission data, the display to the left of the center shows aircraft status and electronic warfare information, and the display to the right of the center has sensory and fire control information. In two-seat variants, the rear seat’s displays can be operated independently of the pilot’s own display arrangement in the forward seat, Saab has promoted this capability as being useful during electronic warfare and reconnaissance missions, and while carrying out command and control activities. In May 2010, Sweden began equipping their Gripens with additional onboard computer systems and new displays. The MFDs are interchangeable and designed for redundancy in the event of failure, flight information can be presented on any of the displays.

Saab and BAE developed the Cobra HMDS for use in the Gripen, based on the Striker HMDS used on the Eurofighter. By 2008, the Cobra HMDS was fully integrated on operational aircraft, and is available as an option for export customers; it has been retrofitted into older Swedish and South African Gripens. The HMDS provides control and information on target cueing, sensor data, and flight parameters, and is optionally equipped for night time operations and with chemical/biological filtration. All connections between the HMDS and the cockpit were designed for rapid detachment, for safe use of the ejection system.

A technician visually inspecting a Gripen’s RM12 engine

All in-service Gripens as of January 2014 are powered by a Volvo RM12 turbofan engine (now GKN Aerospace Engine Systems), a license-manufactured derivative of General Electric F404, fed by a Y-duct with splitter plates; changes include increased performance and improved reliability to meet single engine use safety criteria, as well as a greater resistance to bird strike incidents. Several subsystems and components were also redesigned to reduce maintenance demands. By November 2010, the Gripen had accumulated over 143,000 flight hours without a single engine-related failure or incident; Rune Hyrefeldt, head of Military Program management at Volvo Aero, stated: “I think this must be a hard record to beat for a single-engine application”.

The JAS 39E and F variants under development are to adopt the F414G powerplant, a variant of the General Electric F414. The F414G can produce 20% greater thrust than the current RM12 engine, enabling the Gripen to supercruise (maintain speed beyond the sound barrier without the use of afterburners) at a speed of Mach 1.1 while carrying an air-to-air combat payload. In 2010, Volvo Aero stated it was capable of further developing its RM12 engine to better match the performance of the F414G, and claimed that developing the RM12 would be a less expensive option. Prior to Saab’s selection of the F414G, the Eurojet EJ200 had also been under consideration for the Gripen; proposed implementations included the use of thrust vectoring.

Pair of Czech Gripens during a Baltic Air Policing mission in Lithuania

The Gripen is compatible with a number of different armaments, beyond the aircraft’s single 27 mm Mauser BK-27 cannon (omitted on the two-seat variants), including air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9 Sidewinder, air-to-ground missiles such as the AGM-65 Maverick, and anti-ship missiles such as the RBS-15. In 2010, the Swedish Air Force’s Gripen fleet completed the MS19 upgrade process, enabling compatibility with a range of weapons, including the long-range MBDA Meteor missile, the short-range IRIS-T missile and the GBU-49 laser-guided bomb. Speaking on the Gripen’s selection of armaments, Saab’s campaign director for India Edvard de la Motte stated that: “If you buy Gripen, select where you want your weapons from. Israel, Sweden, Europe, US… South America. It’s up to the customer”.

In flight, the Gripen is typically capable of carrying up to 14,330 lb (6.50 t) of assorted armaments and equipment. Equipment includes external sensor pods for reconnaissance and target designation, such as Rafael’s LITENING targeting pod, Saab’s Modular Reconnaissance Pod System, or Thales’ Digital Joint Reconnaissance Pod. The Gripen has an advanced and integrated electronic warfare suite, capable of operating in an undetectable passive mode or to actively jam hostile radar; a missile approach warning system passively detects and tracks incoming missiles. In November 2013, it was announced that Saab will be the first to offer the BriteCloud expendable Active jammer developed by Selex ES. In June 2014, the Enhanced Survivability Technology Modular Self Protection Pod, a defensive missile countermeasure pod, performed its first flight on the Gripen.

Saab describes the Gripen as a “swing-role aircraft”, stating that it is capable of “instantly switching between roles at the push of a button”. The human/machine interface changes when switching between roles, being optimized by the computer in response to new situations and threats. The Gripen is also equipped to use a number of different communications standards and systems, including SATURN secure radio, Link-16, ROVER, and satellite uplinks. Equipment for performing long range missions, such as an aerial refueling probe and onboard oxygen generation system (OBOGS), was integrated upon the Gripen C/D.

Gripen during takeoff in snowy conditions, 2012

During the Cold War, the Swedish Armed Forces were to be ready to defend against a possible invasion. This scenario required that combat aircraft disperse to maintain an air defence capacity. Thus, a key design goal during the Gripen’s development was the ability to take off from snow-covered landing strips of only 800 metres (2,600 ft); furthermore, a short-turnaround time of just ten minutes, during which 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.

During the design process, great priority was placed on facilitating and minimising aircraft maintenance; in addition to a maintenance-friendly layout, many subsystems and components require little or no maintenance at all. Aircraft are fitted with a Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) that monitors the performance of various systems, and provides information to technicians to assist in servicing it. Saab operates a continuous improvement programme; information from the HUMS and other systems can be submitted for analysis. According to Saab, the Gripen provides “50 % lower operating costs than its best competitor”.

A 2012 Jane’s Aerospace and Defense Consulting study compared the operational costs of a number of modern combat aircraft, concluding that Gripen had the lowest cost per flight hour (CPFH) when fuel used, pre-flight preparation and repair, and scheduled airfield-level maintenance together with associated personnel costs were combined. The Gripen had an estimated CPFH of US$4,700 whereas the next lowest, the F-16 Block 40/50, had a 49% higher CPFH at $7,000.

An ETPS Gripen at RIAT 2008

The Swedish Air Force placed a total order for 204 Gripens in three batches. The first delivery occurred on 8thune 1993, when 39102 was handed over to the Flygvapnet during a ceremony at Linköping; the last was handed over on 13thecember 1996. The air force received its first Batch II example on 19thecember 1996. Instead of the fixed-price agreement of Batch I, Batch II aircraft were paid as a “target price” concept: any cost underruns or overruns would be split between FMV and Saab.

The JAS 39 entered service with the F 7 Wing (F 7 Skaraborgs Flygflottilj) on 1stovember 1997. The final Batch three aircraft was delivered to FMV on 26 November 2008. This was accomplished at 10% less than the agreed-upon price for the batch, putting the JAS 39C flyaway cost at under US$30 million. This batch of Gripens was equipped for in-flight refuelling from specially equipped TP84s. In 2007, a programme was started to upgrade 31 of the air force’s JAS 39A/B fighters to JAS 39C/Ds. The SwAF had a combined 134 JAS 39s in service in January 2013. In March 2015, the Swedish Air Force received its final JAS 39C.

On 29th March 2011, the Swedish parliament approved the Swedish Air Force for a 3-month deployment to support the UN-mandated no-fly zone over Libya. Deployment of eight Gripens, ten pilots, and other personnel began on 2nd April. On 8th June 2011, the Swedish government announced an agreement to extend the deployment for five of the Gripens. By October 2011, Gripens had flown more than 650 combat missions, almost 2,000 flight hours, and delivered approximately 2,000 reconnaissance reports to NATO. Journalist Tim Hepher suggested that the Libyan operations might stimulate sales of the Gripen and other aircraft.

Czech Gripen with Čáslav AFB in the background

When the Czech Republic became a NATO member in 1999, the need to replace their existing Soviet-built MiG-21 fleet with aircraft compatible with NATO interoperability standards became apparent. In 2000, the Czech Republic began evaluating a number of aircraft, including the F-16, F/A-18, Mirage 2000, Eurofighter Typhoon and the Gripen. One major procurement condition was the industrial offset agreement, set at 150% of the expected purchase value. In December 2001, having reportedly been swayed by Gripen International’s generous financing and offset programme, the Czech Government announced that the Gripen had been selected. In 2002, the deal was delayed until after parliamentary elections had taken place; alternative means of air defense were also studied, including leasing the aircraft.

Saab JAS 39 Gripen on display at the F 7 Såtenäs wing

On 14th June 2004, it was announced that the Czech Republic was to lease 14 Gripen aircraft, modified to comply with NATO standards. The agreement also included the training of Czech pilots and technicians in Sweden. The first six were delivered on 18th April 2005. The lease was for an agreed period of 10 years at a cost of €780 million; the 14 ex-Swedish Air Force aircraft included 12 single-seaters and two JAS 39D two-seat trainers. In September 2013, the Defence and Security Export Agency announced that a follow-up agreement with the Czech Republic had been completed to extend the lease by 14 years, until 2029; the leased aircraft shall also undergo an extensive modernisation process, including the adoption of new datalinks. The lease also has an option of eventually acquiring the fighters outright. In 2014 the lease was extended to 2027 and the Saab service contract was extended to 2026.

In November 2014, the Czech air force commander General Libor Štefánik proposed leasing a further six Gripens due to Russia’s deteriorating relationship with the West. According to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence, this proposal is just a personal vision of the air force commander. The fleet expansion is not on the agenda for years to come. More recently, the air force decided to upgrade its fleet to the MS20 configuration.

Czech Gripen deploying defensive flares, 2011

Following Hungary’s membership of NATO in 1999, there were several proposals to achieve a NATO-compatible fighter force. Considerable attention went into studying second-hand aircraft options as well as modifying the nation’s existing MiG-29 fleet. In 2001, Hungary received several offers of new and used aircraft from various nations, including Sweden, Belgium, Israel, Turkey, and the US. Although the Hungarian government initially intended to procure the F-16, in November 2001 it was in the process of negotiating a 10-year lease contract for 12 Gripen aircraft, with an option to purchase the aircraft at the end of the lease period.

As part of the procurement arrangements, Saab had offered an offset deal valued at 110 per cent of the cost of the 14 fighters. Initially, Hungary had planned to lease several Batch II aircraft; however, the inability to conduct aerial refuelling and weapons compatibility limitations had generated Hungarian misgivings. The contract was renegotiated and was signed on 2 February 2003 for a total of 14 Gripens, which had originally been A/B standard and had undergone an extensive upgrade process to the NATO-compatible C/D ‘Export Gripen’ standard. The last aircraft deliveries took place in December 2007.

Hungarian Air Force Gripen during inverted flight, 2007

While the Hungarian Air Force operates a total of 14 Gripen aircraft under lease, in 2011, the country reportedly intended to purchase these aircraft outright. However, in January 2012, the Hungarian and Swedish governments agreed to extend the lease period for a further ten years; according to Hungarian Defence Minister Csaba Hende, the agreement represented considerable cost savings.

Two Gripens were lost in crashes in May and June 2015, leaving 12 Gripens in operation. Hungary will be back to 14 Gripen with the signing of a replacement contract.

In 1999, South Africa signed a contract with BAe/Saab for the procurement of 26 Gripens (C/D standard) with minor modifications to meet their requirements. Deliveries to the South African Air Force commenced in April 2008. By April 2011, 18 aircraft (nine two-seater aircraft and nine single-seaters) had been delivered. While the establishment of a Gripen Fighter Weapon School at Overberg Air Force Base in South Africa had been under consideration, in July 2013 Saab ruled out the option due to a lack of local support for the initiative; Thailand is an alternative location being considered, as well as the Čáslav Czech air base.

A South African Air Force JAS 39C Gripen in flight

Between April 2013 and December 2013, South African contractors held prime responsibility for maintenance work on the Gripen fleet as support contracts with Saab had expired; this arrangement led to fears that extended operations may not be possible due to a lack of proper maintenance. In December 2013, Armscor awarded Saab a long-term support contract for the company to perform engineering, maintenance, and support services on all 26 Gripens through 2016. On 13th March 2013, South African Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula stated that “almost half of the SAAF Gripens” have been stored because of an insufficient budget to keep them flying. In September 2013, the SAAF decided not to place a number of its Gripens in long-term storage; instead all 26 aircraft would be rotated between flying cycles and short-term storage. Speaking in September 2013, Brigadier-General John Bayne testified that the Gripen met the SAAF’s minimum requirements, as the country faced no military threats.

Royal Thai Air Force Gripen

In 2007, Thailand’s Parliament authorized the Royal Thai Air Force to spend up to 34 billion baht (US$1.1 billion) as part of an effort to replace Thailand’s existing Northrop F-5 fleet. In February 2008, the Thai Air Force ordered six Gripens (two single-seat C-models and four two-seat D-models) from Saab; deliveries began in 2011. Thailand ordered six more Gripen Cs in November 2010; deliveries began in 2013. Thailand may eventually order as many as 40 Gripens. In 2010, Thailand selected the Surat Thani Airbase as the main operating base for its Gripens. The first of the six aircraft were delivered on 22nd February 2011.

Saab delivered three Gripens in April 2013, and three more in September 2013. In September 2013, Air Force Marshal Prajin Jantong stated that Thailand is interested in purchasing six aircraft more in the near future, pending government approval. Thai Supreme Commander General Thanasak Patimapragorn has stated that the air force intends for the Gripen’s information systems to be integrated with Army and Navy systems. The armed forces will officially inaugurate the Gripen Integrated Air Defence System during 2014.

Royal Thai Air Force JAS-39D in 2016


Saab JAS 39 Gripen models available from Flying Tigers.

Flying Tigers has a great choice of Saab JAS 39 Gripen models available to order. Simply click on the photo of your choice below to go straight to the model page.


Air Commander Latest Model Announcement.

Already selling fast, the latest Air Commander Phantom can now be pre-ordered from Flying Tigers. Jolly Rogers fans beware, this has started to sell through much quicker than other Air Commander announced models so if you need one for your collection I would not delay. Please click on the images below to go straight through to the model page.


Aviation 72 Range Website Updates

Aviation 72 have significantly increased the range and choice of models over the last couple of years, and to enable collectors to focus and navigate Flying Tigers Aviation 72 models, I have segmented the range ( in the same way as Hobbymaster) to enable customers to chose the model they are looking for more easily. I have shown each aircraft type using a thumbnail image as shown below. I hope you like the changes.

Please CLICK HERE to see how this now appears on Flying Tigers.

Panavia Tornado F3

de Havilland Sea Vixen

Gloster Javelin

Hawker Sea Hawk

Folland Gnat Fighter

Folland Gnat Trainer

Fairey Gannet

Saab Draken

Saab Gripen

Saab Viggen

Short Tucano T1

Scottish Aviation Bulldog

DHC-1 Chipmunk

DH82A Tiger Moth

Westland Gazelle


Flying Tigers Winter weather dispatches.

We have been very busy getting your models out as this week, but the weather has caused some delays. Some areas of the country have faired better than others with the Winter snow and ice. If you have had a notification from Flying Tigers that your order is “completed” it means that your model is on its way. Please leave extra time for delivery as the Post Office and Parcel Force delivery van drivers have experienced treacherous road conditions both locally here at Sywell and in out lying areas.

Well that is it for this week.

Thank you for reading this week’s Newsletter.


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