I will continue to expand existing pages of this blog as time goes by. The "Myths and Misconceptions" page will likely see the most action, as certain truths are revealed and more information comes available.
The Gripen's perceived short range seems to be its its greatest weakness, along with its single engine. I've already addressed the fiction of single engines being dangerous in this day and age, so I will now address criticism about the Gripen's range.
"The Gripen has too short a range!"
|Saab's presentation slide on the Gripen NG's range.|
With a single 290 gallon external tank, the Gripen E has a combat radius of 1300km. That is 200 more than the F-35. Admittedly, the F-35's figure is based on internal fuel only, but the Gripen has the option of dropping its tank once it is empty, as well as flying without it if the range isn't needed. Equipped with a full load of external tanks, the Gripen E's range is superior to a similarly equipped Super Hornet, and close behind that of the Typhoon and Rafale. External tanks for the F-35 have been proposed, yet not yet developed or tested.
Not enough? There are still two more options.
|Artist's rendering of a Gripen with CFTs and towed decoys.|
- Conformal Fuel Tanks (CFTs). These have already been developed for legacy fighters like the F-15 and F-16, as well as being currently developed for the Eurofighter Typhoon. CFTs attach to an aircraft providing additional fuel, and in some cases, additional weapon or equipment stations. They add minimal extra drag, weight, and radar cross section, but can only be removed at base rather than simply dropped like other external tanks. Although the Gripen currently has no CFT option, this would be a great Canadian contribution to the program and would likely see foreign interest.
- A Gripen ER (Extended Range). Reader Joe Svatt recently e-mailed me with an interesting proposition. If range is truly an issue, Canada could procure a single seat version of the normally-two-seat Gripen F. Instead of being used for a co-pilot, that extra space could instead be used for fuel storage. I'm not sure if this would cause problems with weight or safety issues, or if the single-seat Gripen's cannon could be mounted on the usually gunless Gripen F, but it certainly adds an additional option that should be more than enough to quiet the critics.