Spotted: Gripen NG with new fuel tanks

One of the Gripen NG’s key sales points is range. Saab says the fighter can fly 1,300km with six air to air missiles, loiter 30min and return to base. It’s hard to make a direct comparison to the F-35 since performance specifications with external stores are not publicly listed. Using only internal fuel and weapons, the F-35A is designed to fly 1,093km with up to four air-to-air missiles and return to base.

Massive fuel tanks allow Saab to achieve the range goal for the Gripen NG. Saab has now tested the 50% larger, 450gal fuel tanks in flight, as the video above clearly shows. 


Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

, , ,

26 Responses to Spotted: Gripen NG with new fuel tanks

  1. tl 8 October, 2010 at 4:58 pm #

    I would argue in this case that the Gripen NG ferry’s weapons to the target. I also wonder how much those bad boys ad to GNG’s rcs…. BTW, has anyone thought of designing such an aircraft from the beginning to be able to be ‘stretched’ with fuselage plugs, much as is done with airliners and transports or are computers still not up to the task?

  2. Royce 8 October, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    I’d make the range comparison with the F-16 rather than the F-35. The Gripen and F-35 aren’t competitors in the sense that if a country wants what the F-35 brings to the table enough to pay the heftier price for it, that country won’t be looking at the Gripen.

  3. Atomic Walrus 8 October, 2010 at 11:50 pm #

    How tactically useful are big tanks like that? The extra loading on such a small aircraft must degrade handling considerably. If they have to drop the tanks to fight, do they then have enough internal fuel to return to base? The range would be more useful for a strike mission, but I’m guessing most of the payload will have been used up by the fuel.

  4. dude 8 October, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    Think of it as F16 carrying the IMI 600 gal fuel tanks in place of the standard 370 gal tanks.

  5. RSF 11 October, 2010 at 6:24 am #

    While other fighter programs like to tout the amazing technology their fighter will have at some point in the distant future, Saab continues to thoughtfully and methodically add capabilities to their aircraft. In addition to the new long distance fuel tanks, the Selex Raven enhanced AESA with a 200 degree scan pattern is now flying and successfully integrated in the NG testbed.

    Next to come will be the integration of the MBDA Meteor BVR missile for Swedish Air Force Gripens, and partner nations export Gripens will certainly follow.

    With Gripen still holding the best price point in the fighter market, the NG development program adds an amazing value to this already great fighter.

  6. Aussie Digger 11 October, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    Those tanks are only rated subsonically though….

    What I’d like SAAB to come out and state is over what range the Gripen is capable of supercruising and how this (it WILL be miniscule) will actually be of any tactical benefit?

  7. dude 11 October, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    Falcon with 600 gal tanks suffers severe flight restriction too; Mirage 2K & Rafale use different tanks for supersonic and long-endurance missions.

    What I’d like YOU to come out is making the same unrealistic demands on any other manufactors. Yeah, we would love to see Gripen or Raptor going exoatmospheric one day too. Check your physics, though.

  8. RSF 12 October, 2010 at 6:50 am #

    Yes, I want to see Gripen compare their supercruising range against that of the F-35, er…ah sorry, I forgot that the F-35 can’t supercruise.

    Minuscule, that would be referring to the top speed of F-35 vs. the Gripen (Gripen: Mach 2 2,470 km/h/1372 mph vs. F-35 Mach 1.67 2065 km/h/1,283 mph

    Lets see, why would supercruising be of any tactical benefit?

  9. cru 12 October, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    RSF, if you imply that Gripen NG has this technology today, while “other fighter program” (I suppose you are refering to F 35) brag about the technology they will have in a “distant future”, I sugest to check your figures. F 35 will have full operational capability in 2015. Earlier than Gripen NG…

  10. RSF 12 October, 2010 at 2:08 pm #


    Which of the sliding F-35 development schedules are you be referring too? And how many times have they been re-written just in the last two years?

    Meanwhile Saab with a tiny budget has continued to develop the Gripen NG platform creating an advanced 4.5 gen fighter.

    Compare the Gripen NG test aircraft with any F-35 in existence right now and guess who’s closer to battle ready?

  11. Aussie Digger 12 October, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    Nice wiki link, RSF,

    Now perhaps you could provide a source which shows how ‘supercruising’ at M1.2 over the 50nm or so the Gripen might actually be able to manage before reaching bingo fuel, is actually of tactical benefit…

    But then being capable of flying supersonically without afterburner, is rather different to ‘supercruising’. I’ve no doubt a near clean Gripen can fly supersonically for a while without using reheat. Most modern fighters including the F-16 and F/A-18 have demonstrated an ability to do aso as well…

    Miniscule therefore is correct in relation to overall tactical relevance. It is too Funny how you are more than happy to be sucked in by SAAB’s mareketing claims, but others are not to be believed…


    I’d be more than happy for other companies to be held to account in their claims, where would you like to start? Boeing? Dassault? Eurofighter Consortium, L-M, who?

    • Picard578 14 July, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

      Gripen E has 3.510 kg of fuel, giving it 1.300 km combat radius on internal fuel, for 1,35 kg / km of distance covered. Dry thrust of 6.526 kgf with SFC of (?) 0,76 kg/kgf/h results in fuel consumption of 4.960 kg/h, or 1.653 kg for 20 minutes. SFC of 0,8 would give 5.220 kg/h, or 1.740 kg in 20 minutes, which is the figure I am going to use.

      With 1.740 kg used in 20 minutes of supersonic cruise, remaining 1.770 kg allow it to cover 1.310 km, for 655 km combat radius. 350-370 km combat radius is more likely once takeoff and climb are accounted for.

  12. Aussie Digger 12 October, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    You are getting even funnier RSF,

    Gripen NG doesn’t even exist at present. A modified Gripen D entilited demo exists and it doesn’t even have a radar at present…

    Battle ready? Not a single production NG exists. I would have thought this would have been intuitively obvious, given SAAB don’t even have a single order for an NG model yet, but apparently not.. That is one definite area of performance where the F-35 is currently beating the Gripen NG…

    A civilian journalist has also now been for a ride a long in the NG and confirmed that the Gripen NG needs to use the burner to get supersonic and then throttles back to maintain supersonic speeds and this is with an airframe mounting 2x dummy IRIS-T missiles and NOTHING else…

    Nice to see some truthfulness emerging though…

  13. cru 13 October, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    Acording to there are 14 F 35 flying. How many NG are in the same situation? AFAIK, only 1…

  14. dude 13 October, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    Try to compare program cost; it’d be even more startling.

  15. Aussie Digger 13 October, 2010 at 3:57 pm #


    When SAAB tries to build 3 distinct variants of the same low observable fighter simultaneously, including a supersonic capable STOVL jet, then perhaps we can reasonably compare program costs.

    Given no manufacturer in history has even tried to do what L-M IS doing, I find comparisons with other program costs rather asinine…

    Then you can add an extra 15 years worth of inflation, increased raw material and labor costs onto those program costs and maybe the differences wouldn’t be so startling…

  16. Dave Collins 13 October, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    These new 450Gal tanks are supersonic drop tanks.

    One tank adds 100km range to Gripen NG.

    Both above sentences is Saab’s official info.

    The nice thing about drop tanks is that you can drop them and quickly become a supercruising and mach2 capable high manuverability air dominance fighter.

  17. Dave Collins 13 October, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

    Errr that should be adds 1000 km of range :) And that is from Saab’s own pdf

  18. Atomic Walrus 13 October, 2010 at 9:57 pm #

    Yes, you can drop the tanks. And if you’re too far out from base, you can quickly blow through your internal fuel in a fight and lack the range to get home. That’s what I don’t get about the big tanks. They’re fine for a patrol mission, but they don’t let the Gripen carry a large payload (6 AAMs don’t weigh much) and a small fighter like that is going to be severely penalized in performance by carrying such large tanks. Like the “supercruising” capability, this seems like a means of padding the sales brochure rather than adding a useful capability. It seems like a nice little fighter for a country with a policy of neutrality, but it’s not an air dominance fighter like the F-22 or Flanker, a strike fighter like the F-35 or F-15E, or politically connected like the Typhoon.

  19. Dave Collins 13 October, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    (One drop tank adds 1000km not 100km.)

    The Gripen NG in development for operations 2015+ has 15% longer combat range over F-35. Supercruise is sustained with 4 AAMs, tell the F-22 guys this is a gimmick. (much lower fuel use & infrared signature).

    Main difference in philosophy; the F-35 having more focus on ground attack. Main sensors fixed and pointed towards the ground, internal bomb bays (but only for a small load). And fight with support from Awacs and the more advanced F-22.

    The Gripen is more towards air superiority and can fly, turn and climb faster. Main sensors can rotate and thus scan more areas. Real linked sensor-sharing. Designed to operate as a single-aircraft for national defence thus packed with smart avionics.

    It also comes in a twin-seat version with command and control mini-awacs capabilities. Since the new Gripen is designed for 2015+ much of the avionics is more modern than the delayed F-35.

    Gripen is more flexible, cheaper, smarter. For most air forces…. at least that’s what I would argue.

  20. dude 14 October, 2010 at 12:01 am #

    EVERY multi-year program (military and civilian alike) under the Sun is subjected to inflationary pressure; JSF is hardly alone in this regard.

    The commonality aspect of JSF is meant to keep the overall cost down, NOT up. Rafale B/C/M would be a better comparison in this regard, not Gripen.

    Since when is JSF program’s schedule slippage (“15 years”) a justification for the rising cost? The longer the RDT&E (and the more redesigns there is to implement across the fleet), the more the overall cost will rise. Saab elects to mitigate the risk by converting just one JAS39B to NG standard; Lockheed elects to build a whole fleet of test article instead.

  21. cru 14 October, 2010 at 7:59 am #

    Those are not supersonic tanks! There is no mention about this capability on the link you posted. BTW, all supersonic tanks has a specific shape dictated by the “area rule”. As for 1000 km per tank I would call it wishfull thinking, to be polite…

  22. Aussie Digger 14 October, 2010 at 10:29 am #


    1. You misquoted your own links.

    2. Those are NOT supersonic rated tanks. They may add a bit of range, but the bigger the tank, the more drag that occurs and effects not only performance, but ironically enough the aircrafts range itself…

    3. The amount of time that a Gripen has spent at M2, would be meaured in minutes at best and as usual with these things are demonstrated by manufacturers with brand new, aerodynamically clean airframes, with ‘just right’ flight profiles designed to reach a maximum possible speed and then throttle back. It is a fighter designed with supersonic dash capability. That is all. It is not a speed that would ever be regularly reached, but something the aircraft is possible of, under the right conditions. As an example, A model Hornets have reached M1.89 and Super Hornets have reached M1.84 under similar conditions despite both being listed as having an M1.8 maximum speed. But you’ll never see these types reach such speeds normally…

    I would love to see you try and find a source of ANY sort, that proves that a Gripen can reach M2 with an operational warload…

    And even if it could, for how many seconds it can stay at this speed…

  23. Aussie Digger 14 October, 2010 at 12:31 pm #


    How many Gripens did SAAB build build during it’s initial testing? I’m not talking abot NG, it is an upgrade only to an existing platform and a fairly mild one at that, nowhere near as substantial as the Super Hornet compared to the Hornet, for arguments sake.

    Again comparing the two is ridiculous. One program is building 3x new fighter types, of varying capability.

    The other program is performing a mild upgrade on a reasonably capable 4th Gen fighter to attempt to keep it competitive against other 4th Gen fighters and new 5th Gens.

    There is no similarity in these programs whatsoever…

  24. dude 14 October, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    Is there much to compare between F4 & MiG21?

    OR between a F14 or F15 & a F5, A4, Mirage or F16?

    On paper, not much. In the sky, plenty.

    LMT labels F35 a “5th Gen” (call it “6th Gen” if you like) for marketing purpose. Eventually, JSF will be tested & compared to those it will share the sky for decades to come. Eg Su35.

    Use your head; don’t just read the ad. Manufacturer/contractor will almost always put its product in better light. You know better.

  25. William C. 16 October, 2010 at 1:34 am #

    I have my doubts over these range figures seeing that the F-35A carries over 18,000 pounds of internal fuel. Yes the Gripen NG has less drag, and is the smaller, lighter aircraft, but it has to carry stores externally.

    Despite what the “cancel the F-35 now” crowd says the F-35 isn’t that bad in terms of drag. Lockheed and others involved did learn from the ATF program.

    Regardless the Gripen NG seems like it will be an impressive performer and make good use of that single F414. It will probably be the best “light” fighter you can get on the market, although there aren’t many other options in that category these days until you jump up 5000+ pounds to the F-16 family.

Leave a Reply