An Insight on Gripen's capabilities

Greetings everyone. In this thread I want to discuss a problem that I think has become rampant throughout the WT community, including also several content creators: the perceived idea that the Gripen is a bad performing aircraft when compared to other 4th Gen fighters. I’m aware of the fact that the flight model in the dev server is not an accurate representation of the Gripen capabilities, as it currently allows the player to throw the nose around as if it was an RC plane, what I want to focus on instead is the incredulity that many people share when they see the Gripen outrate a Flanker, retain its energy past the first turn or give the F-16A a serious run for its money in a dogfight. This incredulity, which has already lead a lot of people into expecting or outright demanding severe nerfs for this jet’s maneuverability, seems to stem entirely from two key aspects of the Gripen design: its unremarkable thrust/weight ratio (from here on written as TWR) and its delta wing, which is commonly associated with a strong loss of speed in high-G turns.

First of all, while a high TWR is certainly a desirable quality in a fighter aircraft, especially when performing vertical maneuvers, it is nowhere near as important as the aerodynamic design in defining the flight characteristics of that aircraft; if this wasn’t true, the F-104 would be a better dogfighter than the F-5E and the Harrier would be as good as the F-16A in a ratefight. Let’s speak therefore of the Gripen aerodynamic design because, contrary to the popular belief… A DELTA WING DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY EQUATE A BAD ENERGY RETENTION. Expecting the Gripen to beheave like a MIG-21 because it has a delta wing is like expecting the F-14 to beheave like a Tornado because it has a variable sweep wing.
Let’s understand the problem first: delta wings are generally characterised by high sweep angles and low aspect ratios. While this configuration achieves a very low wave drag, granting the aircraft a smooth transition through the transonic regime and the ability to achieve a high Mach number even without huge amounts of thrust, it introduces two major issues: a high lift-induced drag coefficient (CDi) and a low lift curve slope. These are the sources of the severe energy loss that plagued older delta fighters in high-G turns: to generate the lift necessary to perform a certain G turn, a delta winged aircraft typically requires a higher than average angle of attack which, coupled with the high CDi, means a lot of lift-induced drag.

But if that’s the case, then why do all european fighters have delta wings?
BECAUSE THIS PROBLEM CAN BE FIXED, using an unstable canard configuration with fly-by-wire controls. Relaxed stability (ie placing the center of gravity behind the center of lift) allows to replace the intrinsic pitch-down moment of a stable aircraft with an intrinsic pitch-up moment, as well as improving handling and bringing trim drag to almost zero. Furthermore, unlike traditional tail controls, canards in a turn exert an upward force that sums to lift rather than a downward force, thus decreasing wing loading rather than increasing it. These factors combined dramatically reduce the amount of lift required to perform a certain G-turn, therefore the necessary associated AOA, therefore also the drag experienced by the aircraft in that turn. The Gripen canards are close-coupled, meaning that their tip vortices are exploited to energize the airflow over the wings, improving lift-generation and augmenting the high-alpha performance of the wing itself. Its small and narrow airframe, paired with its highly swept and short-spanned wings, also gives it possibly the lowest drag in straight flight out of any 4th Gen fighter (just think at the fact that it achieves a higher top speed than the F-18 with half the thrust), which compensates to a degree for its unremarkable engine power when it comes to acceleration and climb rate: while there is no such thing as too much thrust, if drag is very low, you don’t need a lot of thrust to overcome it.
Unfortunately, the EM Diagrams of the Gripen are still classified but we can still get an idea of its performance from videos and pilot accounts. For example, have a look at this:

At 5:35, we can appreciate an uninterrupted 9G turn for 10 seconds, something unthinkable for older delta fighters and even for some of the Teen Series aircrafts. Then we have the account of Mikael Grev, a Gripen pilot with DACT experience against the norwegian and danish F-16s (MLU variant) and against the finnish F-18s (C variant) who also flew on the F-16. While pilot accounts are not necessarily unbiased, as an experienced pilot can often defeat a superior aircraft (Sharkey Ward famously scored several F-15 kills in his Sea Harrier), they still remain in my opinion the best and most trustworthy sources when EM Diagrams are not available. Mikael Grev released one interview to the channel Aircraft Interview:

and one to the site Hushkit

Flying & Fighting in the Gripen: Interview with a Swedish Air Force pilot | Hush-Kit.

I suggest you read/listen to both, but the short story is that he found the Gripen to perform very similar to the F-16 but with better handling qualities. By contrast, he found the F-18 to be a more dangerous opponent due to its ability to pull a lot of AOA, but also noted that the Gripen retained energy better in a turn.

Considering all I’ve said so far, plus the fact that in War Thunder balancing between factions also plays a role and that the MIG-29G, all the F-15s and especially the SU-27/J-11 Flanker all have much better weapon loadouts at the moment, it’s not therefore unreasonable to see the Gripen closely tied with the F-16A for the title of best dogfighter at top tier, although an increase in BR to 12.3 might be necessary. Thanks to all who took their time to read this, I hope it gave you a better insight about the Gripen and delta winged aircrafts in general.

As per the sources:

Fighters and Fighter Bombers (by Octavio Diez)

A Handbook of Fighter Aircrafts (by Francis Crosby)

World Aircraft Information Files

The Hushkit Book of Warplanes

P.S: I am aware of this document, however note that in this page ITR and STR are provided without any indication of altitude, air temperature, weight configuration and engine power (MIL or MAX AB). Without these reference data, ITR and STR are not that useful. Upon a more detailed look theese data are from a document that not only doesn’t show anything meaningful for the reasons mentioned above, but how could It since It makes a comparison with a Plane that never existed, the AT2000… All that further proves the inconclusiveness of the document.

Here Is the document:

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/1091059791130013827/1183780024927658045/ws-JohanFerreira-Statement-p166-341-1.pdf?ex=6589940f&is=65771f0f&hm=d4e24702a77238f4903e358cfc30384f89d364f970353724fcc9c469b36b1bed&

Thanks to @Fluffy_Bucketles for pointing It out @Shoot_Harder for providing me the source about the two G-limiters present in the Gripen, the soft One at 9G and the hard One at 12G. Here Is the timestamp:

37 Likes

great post. I am worried that Because of the misinformation on the formums and spread by youtubers, people think that the gripen is just a slight upgrade of the viggen. I love the gripen in real life and now in the game. it should be more stable but it shouldn’t be the worst of all top tier just because a mob says so.

I hope the devs will keep the gripen, the su27 and the mirage4 really strong because since the summer the US teams have been dominating the game really.
There should be balance, and the gripen in this case should have some things were it wins from the f16 to make it competitieve. Because we have had a year with the viggen D and its hopelessly outmatched in everything in top tier and I dont want that again.

13 Likes

Unfortunately the average Person thinks that delta wings are meant to not retain Energy, Just because the Wing Is similar ti the mig-21’s One so they have to fly the same way. I don’t know the reason why people also hate the Gripen so much; i cannot consider myself a gripen’s fanboy, but i cannot stand ignorance and misinformation, especially from people Who claim to have sources/data to back their questionable claims.

15 Likes

Very well put. The gripen is a very modern airframe. It only makes sense it can beat older ones

6 Likes

Very well written lets hope this reaches all those who seem to think the gripen is meant to maneuver worse than a tornado.

7 Likes

least gripen enthusiast haahahhaah

i’m joking btw i’m a fan too

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Thanks for everyone replying, i Hope gaijin and Who tried to spread misinformation Will see this post

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Welcome to the community! Hope you Will enjoy your stay☺️

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you’re welcome to welcoming me

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People complained that the F-16 couldn’t turn at all when the trick was to go below a certain speed. Not a lot of people know how to handle nuance and complain when they don’t understand. Flight models should obviously be fixed of they aren’t close to their performance metrics but people really need to work with their airframes better in most cases.

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Except the F-16 was wrong and was fixed, this Is wrong to Nerf. When the F-16 was introduced despite ADF/MLU and block5/10 having the same Flight performance irl, they were completely different in game and made no sense to gatekeep a Plane under 9G and allowing other Planes to go nuts to G limits they are not able to achieve irl, f.e. 14G on the F-104 or 15G on the F-5c (they can reach a max of 7.3)

1 Like

This post is great at clearing up any misconceptions one could have about the Gripens performance and also that of other similar planes, it would be great if people would just take a moment and read instead of jumping to conclusions based on their own usually limited knowledge and ending up spreading misinformation.
Now it would be great if gaijin would make the correct decision and also give Sweden the 39C along with the UK and with help from posts like this, hopefully make them as accurate and useful as can be for war thunder.
Regardless, kudos to you great sir for this amazing post.

6 Likes

gripen C to sweden was already confirmed to arrive into next big update

It being added an update after the UK getting the same airframe is just stupid, it’s a Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V decision. There is not a single reason for it to arrive any later for Sweden than for anyone else, they might as well give Italy the 39C via Hungary this update since we’re just handing them out.

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until this game doesn’t have amraams, the only thing the C version is better is that will have the HMD, i think amraams will arrive just in time for both TTs having the C

Access to essentially most NATO weaponry, can carry more payload and you cannot set a value on a helmet mounted sight on an aircraft which is mainly gonna do best at close in dogfighting.

The C is just plain better. Everything is not about the AMRAAM, screw that thing preferably it would never be added to the game but that is just wishful thinking.

4 Likes

Great post +1. Love the Grippen, great fighter. Just like evert other 4th gen. They al have advantages and disadvantages. You greatly highlighted these advantages. Some members expect F15 or SU27 to be the ultimate dogfighters. Not saying they are not but they are not the only great dogfighters out there. Gripen is an exceptional plane and we have to treat is as such.

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Keep in mind, 1.5x G limit gaijin employs, and the fact that it throwing the nose around is due to incorrect canard implementation. Accounting for these two things, it is pretty accurate, assuming canards get fixed to not try throw it weird at speed. Alongside the fact Gripen can pull 12 Gs for a time, it is just generally limited in standard flight.

Honestly, you’re selling it short, even if you think you know what you’re talking about.

Yeah, dispite what all the “know it all’s” say, this fighter is the way it is for a very distinctive reason, they designed it this way. I don’t know if anyone has messed with “model” or “foamboard craft” and you design something very similar to the Gripen, and throw it, it preforms an extremely tight loop, adding weight and thrust to be “realistic” to the size makes it maneuver realistically and preforms a scale size turn same as the Gripen should in real life, you realize the maneuverability of this thing isn’t a joke like people think it is.

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yeah while I am kinda salty that the british one is getting hmd which will make it slightly better it basically changes nothing. The c won’t shine until it gets it’s amraam’s which at that point both tt’s will have equal gripen’s.

1 Like