Saab 35 Draken

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The Saab 35 Draken ("the kite" or "the dragon") was a Swedish fighter aircraft manufactured by Saab between 1955 and 1974. The Draken was built to replace the Saab J 29 Tunnan and, later, the fighter variant (J 32B) of the Saab 32 Lansen. The indigenous J 35 was an effective supersonic Cold War fighter that was also successfully exported to Austria, Denmark, Finland, and to the United States as a test pilot training aircraft.

The Draken was the first fully supersonic aircraft to be deployed in Western Europe.

Variants[edit | edit source]

Swedish Variants[edit | edit source]

  • Saab 210 Draken: Also known as Lilldraken, a scaled-down, proof of concept experimental aircraft to evaluate the double delta wing configuration, not specifically a Draken variant but included here for sequence purposes.
  • J35A: Fighter version, total production 90 including prototypes. The J 35As were delivered between 1959 and 1961. The tail section was lengthened after the 66th aircraft to house a new afterburner for additional thrust, the longer tail cone unexpectedly reduced drag. This forced the installation of a retractable tail-wheel. The two versions were nicknamed Adam kort (Adam short) and Adam lång (Adam long). The Adam was fitted with a French Cyrano Radar (Swedish designation PS-02) (same as on the Mirage III) as the Swedish radar hadn't been developed in time.
  • J-35B: Fighter version, built and delivered between 1962 and 1963, with a total production run of seventy-three aircraft. This variant had improved radar and gun sights, and was also fully integrated into the Swedish STRIL 60 system; a combat guidance and air surveillance system. Fitted with a Swedish built radar PS-03.
  • SK35C: Twenty-five J35As with short tail sections rebuilt into a twin-seated trainer version. The minor modification meant that the aircraft could easily be converted back to a J35A standard if necessary. The trainer version lacked armament.
  • J35D: Fighter version, delivered between 1963 and 1964, with a total production run of 120 aircraft. The aircraft had a new and more powerful Rolls-Royce Avon 300 (RM6C), which could deliver 77.3 kN of thrust when using its afterburner. This was also the fastest Draken version, capable of accelerating until out of fuel. It was also the last Draken to carry two cannons. Fitted with the PS-03 radar.
  • S35E: Reconnaissance version, total production of sixty with thirty-two built from scratch and the remainder converted from the J35D model. The armament and radar were removed and several cameras (of ortho and oblique types) fitted. The aircraft was unarmed to make room for the nine cameras of Vinten design (five in the nose and four in the fuselage) but was fitted with a countermeasure system to increase its survivability. It also carried an active infrared reconnaissance system of EG&G design in a pod fitted to a hardpoint.
  • J35F: Fighter version, delivered between 1965 and 1972, with a total production run of 230 aircraft. This variant had improved electronics and avionics, e.g. integrated radar, aim and missile systems. The aircraft's main armament were IR and SARH versions of the Hughes Falcon missile originally intended for the J 35D, but one of the cannon was removed to make space for more avionics. The J35F2 was a J 35F, produced with a Hughes N71 Infra-red search and track sensor. This was a change in the production line from the no. 35501 airframe. The Hawé mods I & II were carried out on the P/S-01/011 radar sets in the early 1980s to improve resistance to ECM.
  • J35J: In 1985 the Swedish government decided to modify fifty-four J35F2s to the J35J standard. In 1987, twelve more modifications were ordered: between 1987 and 1991, the aircraft received a longer lifespan, modernized electronics and cannon, additional two Sidewinder (AIM-9P) pylons under the air intakes and increased external fuel capacity. The final operational J35J flew for the last time in 1999.
  • 35 MOD Level 1b: The aircraft that would become the J35J.
  • 35 MOD Level 4: The most ambitious modification in the program. The proposed modifications were new outer wing, additional weapon stations, RBS 15 capability, the addition of canards by the air intakes for increased maneuverability and maximum take-off weight increased to 15,000 kg.

Export Variants[edit | edit source]

  • Saab 35H: Proposed export version for the Swiss Air Force; none were sold or delivered.
  • Saab 35XD: Danish export versions with a production run of fifty-one aircraft: F-35 single-seat strike aircraft, TF-35 two-seat trainer and RF-35 reconnaissance aircraft. The type was heavily modified to make it into a strike aircraft; compared to the Swedish versions the outer wings where completely redesigned, and the radar was missing. These aircraft could carry heavy bombs as well as Bullpup missiles; during the WDNS upgrade of the 1980s they received the ALQ-162 jammer, a Marconi 900 Series HUD and a Ferranti LRMTS (laser rangefinder and marked target seeker).
  • Saab 35Ö: In the mid-1980s, Saab re-purchased twenty-four J35D aircraft from the Swedish Air Force and converted them into the J35Ö version (also called J35OE in English literature) for export to Austria. Austria bought AIM-9P5 all aspect Sidewinders for these aircraft during the war in former Yugoslavia.

Finnish Air Force variants[edit | edit source]

  • Saab 35XS: Twelve fighter version units for the Finnish Air Force; built by Saab and assembled under licence by Valmet Oyj in Finland. The "S" stood for "Suomi" (Finland).
  • Saab 35BS: Used J35Bs sold to Finland.
  • Saab 35FS: Used J35F1s sold to Finland
  • Saab 35CS: Used SK35Cs sold to Finland.

Users[edit | edit source]

  • Austria
    • Austrian Air Force
  • Denmark
    • Royal Danish Air Force
  • Finland
    • Finnish Air Force
  • Sweden
    • Swedish Air Force

See Also[edit | edit source]