The Saab JAS-39 "Gripen" is designed for the expected high demands on flying performance, flexibility, effectiveness, survivability, and availability for the future of air combat. The designation JAS stands for Jakt (Fighter), Attack (Attack), and Spaning (Reconnaissance), indicating that the Gripen is a multirole aircraft that can fulfill each mission type equally well.
Flying properties and performance are optimised for fighter missions with high demands on speed, acceleration and turning performance. The combination of delta wing and canards gives the JAS 39 Gripen very good take off and landing performance and superb flying characteristics. The totally integrated avionics makes it a "programmable" aircraft. With the built in flexibility and development potential the whole JAS 39 Gripen system will retain and enhance its effectiveness and potential well into the 21st century.
Gripen affords far more flexibility than earlier generations of combat aircraft, and its operating costs will only be about two thirds of those for Viggen. This is especially impressive as the Gripen is a more capable aircraft, with a low purchase price.
The specifications for the Gripen required the ability to operate from 800 m runways. Early on in the programme, all flights from Saab's facility in Linköping were flown from within a 9 m x 800 m outline painted on the runway. Stopping distance is reduced by extending the relatively large airbrakes; using the control surfaces to push the aircraft down enabling the wheel brakes to apply more force; and tilting the canards forwards, making them into large airbrakes and further pushing the aircraft down.
Already in operational service with the Swedish Air Force which has ordered 204 aircraft (including 28 dual-seater), the Gripen has also been ordered by the South African Air Force (28 aircraft), Hungary and the Czech Republic (14 aircraft each).
(This text was adapted from http://www.wikipedia.org/ )(GFDL)
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