Skip to content Go to main navigation Go to language selector
Saab Global

How did the name “Gripen” come about?

2 min read

This story began in the 1980s, when the Swedish Air Force organized a competition for the people to choose the name of the country's new fighter. 


In 1982, the Swedish Air Force's magazine “FlygvapenNytt” published the contest and a flight attendant named Helena Sillen suggested the name Gripen.

Sillen justified her proposal as follows: the name Gripen comes from the word Griffin in English and represents a mythical creature that has the face, beak, claws and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. According to the legend, the force of the lion and the wisdom of the eagle symbolizes the force and wisdom of God, causing the Griffin to be recognized as the king of heaven and earth. Thus, no one could stand in your way.

With this explanation, the jury, formed by the magazine's editor-in-chief, the chief of Air Force and the head of communication of the Swedish Air Force, among others, decided to name the new Swedish fighter "Gripen".

Another reason that made the jury like the name Gripen, was the logical connection with Draken and Viggen – the names of two other aircraft that already belonged to the Swedish Air Force fleet.

In 1986, the Gripen fighter was officially introduced for the first time to the public.

Are you interested in knowing more about the new fighter for the Brazilian Air Force? Click here to read more!