Gripen: Delivering High Operational Readiness
One of the most important capabilities that a Gripen operator always has is availability. The fighter can be rapidly deployed from multiple, scattered locations, and hence, sustain more high-tempo missions with very brief down periods as compared to its modern contemporaries.
Gripen’s Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) capability is not a recent concept. To understand, we need to go back to the Cold War era when the Swedish Air Forces used the Bas 90 system, a strategy in which they used far flung areas as airbases. The goal was to position the aircraft far from each other and decrease the chances of getting tracked all at once.
Unlike most fighters that need a proper runway to operate, Gripen needs a stretch of a road that is only 800 × 16m long and wide. Gripen's canards, which have been inherited from Saab 37 Viggen, offer more lift at slower speeds during landing. What also works behind Gripen's STOL capabilities is that the canard and the wind rudders create an aerodynamic downforce to make the brakes more effective.
Beside STOL, Gripen’s low maintenance plays a vital role behind the fighter’s high availability. Getting Gripen fight-ready between sorties is a seamless and simple process. Very few personnel are needed to complete the necessary checks and replace an item, if needed. Usual turnaround time is ten minutes which includes tasks like refuelling and rearming. Changing an engine takes less than an hour.