Saab JAS-39C Gripen (9237) from the Czech Air Force at the Royal Netherlands Air Force Open Days 2019, Volkel (the Netherlands)
The Saab JAS-39 Gripen is a light single-engine multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab. It was designed to replace the Saab 35 Draken and 37 Viggen in the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet). The Gripen has a delta wing and canard configuration with relaxed stability design and fly-by-wire flight controls. It is powered by the Volvo RM12, and has a top speed of Mach 2. Later aircraft are modified for NATO interoperability standards and to undertake air to air refuelling. When the Czech Republic became a NATO member in 1999, the need to replace their existing Soviet-built MiG-21 fleet with aircraft compatible with NATO interoperability standards became apparent. In December 2001, having reportedly been swayed by Gripen International's generous financing and offset programme, the Czech Government announced that the Gripen had been selected. On 14 June 2004, it was announced that the Czech Republic was to lease 14 Gripen aircraft, modified to comply with NATO standards. The agreement also included the training of Czech pilots and technicians in Sweden. The first six were delivered on 18 April 2005. The lease was for an agreed period of 10 years at a cost of €780 million; the 14 ex-Swedish Air Force aircraft included 12 JAS-39C single-seaters and two JAS-39D two-seat trainers. In 2014 the lease was extended to 2027 and the Saab service contract was extended to 2026. The JAS-39C is the NATO-compatible version of Gripen with extended capabilities in terms of armament, electronics, etc. It also can be refuelled in flight.
Each year the Netherlands armed forces services organises open days on a rotational basis. Open days are intended to show how the Netherlands Defence organisation works for peace and security throughout the world. On these days everyone is welcome to have a look behind the scenes.
The 2019 Royal Netherlands Air Force Open Days took place at Volkel Air Base, home to 312 and 313 F-16 Fighting Falcon squadrons.