On 28 April this
year the Norwegian Ministry of Defence received bids from Saab and Lockheed
Martin for new fighter aircraft to replace the F-16 when this type reaches the
end of it's serviceable life around 2015. The two contenders are JAS 39E/F
Gripen and the conventional TO&L version of F-35 Lightning II. A maximum
number of 48 aircraft are planned to be acquired. Also Eurofighter was long
marketing the Typhoon as a contender to the contract, but they withdrew from the
competition because they considered the American alternative to be favoured by
the Norwegian government, and therefore a biased competition. The final decision
will be taken by the Stortinget the Norwegian Parliament - early next year.
Which of the
two contenders that is the best aircraft for the role is not for me to say,
however in my view the Gripen is definitely the better looking one. Thus I did
not want to wait till after 2015 to build a model of a Gripen in Norwegian
markings, that is if it is selected.
that are offered to Norway
are the E/F models, which are more advanced that the current C/D models. The
E/F versions can carry more fuel and weapons than the earlier versions. The most
prominent external differences are new main undercarriage moved outwards and
located in conformal fairings along the under-wing roots.
My model is
based on the Italeri JAS 39A kit. I first upgraded this to JAS 39C standard
before I made the underside fairings from Milliput. I wanted to display the
model in flight, thus I didn't have to scratch-build new main wheel wells and
undercarriage. I armed the model with an IRIS-T missile taken from Italeri's
Eurofighter kit and a FPR pod on the right wingtip was made from a Sidewinder.
AIM-120B missiles and GBU-12 bombs came from Hasegawa weapons sets. I made a
Pantera targeting pod from a Lantirn, with a scratchbuild front section. An
additional belly tank was kindly given to me from a Swedish modeller (the E/F
models will take two underbelly tanks while the current versions can take only
images below to see larger images
I painted the
model in the current standard for F-16 aircraft, FS36270 grey. Decals came from
various Vingtor Decals sets with the stenciling from TwoBobs.
Even if the
Norwegian politicians decide to buy the F-35, I will still have my RNoAF Gripen
on display on my model shelf.