MILAVIA > Aircraft > J 35 Draken Last updated: 6 August 2017
MILAVIA Aircraft - SAAB J 35 Draken

SAAB J 35 Draken

Role: interceptor, reconnaissance
Builder: SAAB Aerospace
Variants: J 35A, J 35B, Sk 35C, J 35D, S 35E, J 35F, J 35J, 35OE (35Ö), 35XD (F-35, RF-35, TF-35), 35XS
Operators: Sweden (1959-1999), Denmark (1971-1993), Finland (1972-2000), Austria (1987-2005)

The SAAB 35 Draken ('Dragon') is a supersonic interceptor built for the Swedish Air Force in the 1960s. It has a double delta wing. The inner part of the wing is highly swept and is integrated with the airframe. This thick inner wing begins with the engine intakes and makes room for internal fuel, landing gear and fixed weapons. The outer part of the delta wing is less swept to give the aircraft better flight characteristics for subsonic speeds. Another design feature was the short take off capability to operate from normal roads. Swedish military designation is J 35 where the J stands for Jakt (fighter). It is equipped with a licensed built version of the Rolls Royce Avon engine and a domestic developed afterburner.

The Saab J 35A was the first aircraft to enter service. Before they were armed and equipped with radar they were used as single seat trainer. The J 35B had improved ejection seat and control systems. It was equipped with the longer afterburner, like the final J 35As. The 35C variant was a two seat trainer and was based on the J 35A with the short afterburner. It is designated Sk 35C where Sk stands for Skol or Trainer. The J 35D was equipped with the more powerful RM6C engine which required the engine intakes to be extended forward. It also had a new afterburner and a larger internal fuel capacity. The next variant was the dedicated reconnaissance (Spaning) aircraft S 35E. Based on the J 35D it was equipped with four OMERA camera's in the nose (forward, downward and two side-looking) and two forward looking in the wings replacing the internal guns. The next variant was the fighter J 35F equipped with IR detectors and revised canopy. The last variant to operate in the Swedish Air Force was the J 35J which was a rebuilt and improved J 35F.

Besides the above variants of the Swedish Air Force, a number of variants were developed and built for export customers. Finland decided to obtain the Draken in 1970. The Saab 35BS (S for Suomi, Finland) was a reworked J 35B for Finland as interim. The true Finnish variant was the Saab 35XS license-built by Valmet in Finland. The 35XS was basically a J 35F more or less upgraded to J 35J standard with a better countermeasures suite. Finland also acquired earlier J 35Fs from the Swedish Air Force surplus, designated 35FS. For Denmark the Saab 35XD was developed based on the J 35F, upgraded with more internal fuel, stronger gear, arrester hook, improved avionics and cockpit layout, new weapon pylons which resulted in redesigned outer wings. Three versions were built from the Saab 35XD variant: a single seat fighter designated F-35, two seat trainer TF-35 and a single seat reconnaissance version RF-35. Later F-35s were equipped with IR sensor in the nose. Another variant for export became the Saab 35OE (J-35Ö), which were reworked 35Ds for the Austrian Air Force. Austria acquired 24 aircraft in 1985, with deliveries in 1987-1989.

Austria was the last operator of the Saab Draken. After having operated the Draken for 17 years, Austria finally retired the last nine Drakens from operational service in November 2005. Just prior to the retirement, the Draken celebrated its 50 year anniversary.

The Draken designed for STOL

J 35J
Last variant J 35J

Sk 35C
Finnish Sk 35C two-seater

Saab 35XS Draken
Saab 35XS for Finland

Danish TF-35 Draken
Danish TF-35

Related Pages
SAAB 37 Viggen
First Published: 10 October 2002
Last Revised: 25 December 2005
Last Modified: 6 August 2017

Update log:
06 Aug 2017 Some minor changes
17 May 2014 Layout upgrade
25 Dec 2005 Updated