The Swedish Air Force received its final SAAB JAS 39C Gripen multirole fighter. The aircraft with serial number 294 landed at F17 Ronneby Airbase near Karlskrona in southern Sweden on 19 March 2015 to joint the fleet of 78 operational single-seat C and 12 two-seat D versions of the Flygvapnet.
SAAB in Linköping has built 247 Gripen fighter jets since its first flight in December 1988. The Swedish Air Force ordered a total of 204 A, B, C, D versions. From 1996 to 2006 SAAB produced 104 A- and 14 B-versions. Thirty-one As were converted to NATO-compatible C-standard, supplemented with 69 new Gripen Cs. All Bs have been converted to the NATO-compatible D-standard, with 12 still serving in Swedish colours.
The Flygvapnets combat strength has gone down over the years to 90 jet, but ex-Flygvapnet single-seat Gripen Cs and two-seat Ds plus several new aircraft have been sold or leased to the air forces of the Czech Republic (12 C and 2 D), Hungary (12 C and 2 D), South Africa (19 C and 9 D), Thailand (8 C and 4 D) and – soon – Brazil.
The Next Generation Gripen, dubbed E for the single-seat and F for the two-seat version, is planned to stream into Swedish Air Force in 2020, a year after the Força Aérea Brasileira starts getting the 28 Gripen single-seat Es and 8 two-seat Fs it ordered so far. Sweden will be operating at least 60 of the new Gripen jets, but the current order might be expanded to 70 or even 80 jets in the coming years.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The last Gripen C delivered to the Swedish Air Force. No. 294 landed at F17 Ronneby on 19 March 2015 (Image Kent Löving / Försvarsmakten)