1- 30 mm
53 ft. 9 in.
34 ft. 9 in.
The origins of the SAAB Viggen, officially SAAB 37 Viggen, trace back to 1961 when the Swedish Air Force ordered a replacement aircraft for its aging fighter fleet.
The new aircraft would perform numerous roles, including fighter, interceptor, attack, and reconnaissance. It would need to have STOL abilities to operate from unimproved short airfields. In addition it would have to be capable of excellent maneuverability, the ability to perform at lower altitudes at speeds in excess of Mach 1, and be able to exceed Mach 2 during its upper altitudes fighter and interceptor roles.
The most distinctive features of the SAAB Viggen are its forward canards and delta wing. Unlike the use of canards in modern aircraft which aid in maneuverability, the primary use of the canards on the Viggen are to aid in its STOL capabilities.
Saab began experimenting with the use of non movable forward canards in the early 1950’s. They were used in conjunction with the large delta wing design to generate low speed lift, minimizing stall speed.
Engine thrust reversing, the ability of the flap equipped canards to help generate low speed lift, and a large wing area to act as an air brake during high alpha approaches give the SAAB Viggen exceptional stopping abilities. It is capable of operations on runways as short as 1,640 feet, a Swedish Air Force requirement.
Pilots praised the handling of the SAAB Viggen, especially in that it was easier to fly than its predecessor. However, the high alpha landings, necessary for short stops, did take a bit of practice to perfect.
Modular systems, numerous access panels, and a self diagnostic system made the SAAB Viggen easy to maintain.
While SAAB Viggen aircraft used predominantly Swedish parts, their engines were a U.S. Pratt & Whitney design, built under license. The weapons of the aircraft were also of U.S. origin.
The wrap around single piece forward cockpit canopy provides excellent pilot visibility. It is strengthened to withstand bird strikes. The upper portion of the SAAB Viggen vertical stabilizer folds to permit storage in low ceiling underground hangars.
During their service history, SAAB Viggen aircraft received analog to digital avionics updates, and more modern weapons systems.
When it first flew in 1967, the SAAB Viggen was arguably the most advanced jet fighter produced outside of the United States. The aircraft were long lived, with the last one retiring from active duty with the Swedish Air Force in late 2005.
A total of 338 SAAB Viggen aircraft of all types were produced.