Day 12 of our Portrush Aircraft profile is the SAAB Viggen, making its debut not only at Air Waves Portrush, but its first ever display in Northern Ireland! The Viggen is on the Sunday only!
The Viggen was Sweden’s first line of defence during the Cold War period and was capable of operating from standard airfields as well as deployed bases where public roads were used as runways throughtout Sweden. Withdrawn from Swedish Air Force (SwAF) service in 2007 the type first flew in March 1967. This particular example took the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight (SwAFHF) 5 years of restoration before it returned to the skies in March 2012.
Stellan Anderson, the Viggen display pilot, has nearly 12,000 flying hours in his log book and joined the Swedish Air Force in 1969. Ten years later he became the SwAF Viggen display pilot. After leaving the SwAF in 1987, Stellan flew DC9s, Boeing 767s and the Boeing 737 for SAS, the Swedish national airline. During his time with SAS Stellan conitnued to fly historic aircraft with the SwAFHF, and types in his log book include the Harvard, DH Vampire, SAAB J29 Tunnan, SAAB J32 Lance, SAAB SK60, Hawker Hunter, SAAB Draken as well as the Viggen.
The Viggen was initially developed as a replacement for the Saab 32 Lansen in the attack role and later the Saab 35 Draken as a fighter.
The aim was to produce a robust aircraft with good short-runway performance that could be operated from numerous specially prepared roads and highways to reduce the vulnerability to attack in the event of war.
Other requirements included supersonic ability at low level, Mach 2 performance at altitude, and the ability to make short landings at low angles of attack (to avoid damaging improvised runways). The aircraft was also designed from the beginning to be easy to repair and service, even for personnel without much training
The Viggen is the only aircraft to this day to get an acknowledged radar lock on the SR-71!
The Viggens first flight took place in 1967 and was introduced to active service in 1971 until its retirement in 2005 with 329 being built. The Viggen has been phased out in favour of the advanced later generation JAS 39 Gripen with the last front line Viggen retired from the Swedish Air Force in November 2005. A few aircraft were kept flying for electronic warfare training against JAS 39 at F 17M in Linköping
The Viggen that will display at Portrush is believed to be the only Viggen still flying after a restoration. It undertook its maiden flight after having been approved by the authorities on 27 March 2012 from the F 7 Wing at Såtenäs. The Viggen will be unpainted to represent the first delivered Viggens as they looked in the early 1970s
Check back tomorrow for our final aircraft Profile for Airwaves Portrush! No need to tell you what will close our profiles, the only flying Avro Vulcan who shall be making her final ever display in Northern Ireland before being retired from flying later this year!
Information from Airwaves Portrush and Wikipedia. Photo from Wikipedia.