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JAS 39 Gripen in Detail
Control Surfaces

n by Martin Waligorski

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At the Rear and in the Front

Rearward view showing fully deployed flaps, left elevon up, right elevon neutral 
and rudder to the right.

Photo: Björn Ringholm

Two views of the fin, showing the multiple antennae. The big "box"  contains a radar warning system. The probe is an backup pitot tube.

Photo: SAAB + Björn Ringholm


Close-up view of the landing flap.

Photo: Björn Ringholm


The canard wing has become SAABs hallmark since J 37 Viggen introduction into service back in the early 1970s. With JAS 39, SAAB has pushed the concept even further. The combination of an unstable canard layout and delta wing gives the aircraft very good take off and landing performance and superb flying characteristics. The totally integrated avionics makes it also a "programmable" aircraft.

One intriguing detail is a small fin behind the canard. It's exact function is so far kept secret. A qualified guess is that it is some form of vortex generator. 

Photo: SAAB


One unique feature of the new canard design is to act as air brakes. After the touchdown, the entire canard wing can be rotated to near-vertical position thus forming a formidable air brake. It also pushes the aircraft down onto the runway, permitting for more effective action of the traditional wheel brakes.

It is quite a spectacle when viewed live, and, more importantly, allows for landing runs of barely... 500 metres.

Photo: SAAB

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