The United States Air Force (USAF), four of its NATO partners, and Pakistan, a major non-NATO ally, are the primary operators of General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. With the evolution of sales under Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contracts, many other air forces have also acquired F-16s. Most nations that have bought F-16s continue to use them as of 2010.
The F-16 is still in demand today, and many air forces are looking to replace aging inventories with F-16s. Because the USAF has steadily upgraded its F-16 inventory, it will sometimes sell older aircraft it considers obsolete as surplus Excess Defense Articles (EDAs) or as “knockdown” aircraft to supplement spares inventories.
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The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a light single-engine multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab. It was designed to replace the Saab 35 Draken and 37 Viggen in the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet). The Gripen has a delta wing and canard configuration with relaxed stability design and fly-by-wire flight controls. It is powered by the Volvo RM12, and has a top speed of Mach 2. Later aircraft are modified for NATO interoperability standards and to undertake air to air refueling.
F-16 Fighting Falcon vs Saab Jas 39 Gripen Comparision by Danial Shazl (Quora)
Both great warbirds. Both are used in the multirole missions from air defense to mud moving. Both are great fighters. However, one was designed in the 70s and the other was designed in the late 80s.
The Israeli F-16A Block 10 models. Their famous combat missions have earned the respect and resulted in many countries ordering the jet. Apart from that, the Israeli camouflage is the most recognizable in the world. In Israeli hands the F-16 was kept in very good condition, every investment was made to keep the jet in great condition, ready to go in battle at a moment’s notice.
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Earlier writers have commented from the dimensions to agility but we can’t really understand how good are each jet. They have never been publicly been stated on their performance against one another. That’s between pilots who have flown in dissimilar combat missions. However, a country like Thailand has both the F-16 and the Gripen in service so that is the central peace to tell the public which is pro and con among these jets. However one of my recent events a Thai pilot (Can’t mention his name due to privacy of such information) that both the GRIPEN and the FIGHTING FALCON or VIPER have similar agility especially in clean condition but when laden with weapons, both demonstrate similar agility due to limitations placed on the weapons and pylons. Its just the F-16 could carry a much heavier ordinance that the JAS-39. One good advantage the Gripen has over the F-16 is ease of maintenance and the cost per hour is cheaper. The F-16 tend to be more powerful but the power to weight ratio is almost the same between the 2 jets!
The JAS39 Gripen-A is a newer design than the F-16. The cost was a major consideration but the design input was to make use of miniaturization as one element in the design and module with ease of maintenance and reduce the cost of ownership. The Gripen helped replaced the more expensive to own Viggen and its many versions in 1 airframe.
Moving now to the current time, the Swedes has introduced the more capable JAS-39 Gripen-E, slightly bigger than earlier models and able to pack a much more powerful punch. It is more agile and has more engine power. Whereas the F-16 has got a bit bulky as it is promoted as a mud-mover with air defense capabilities. It is less agile than earlier F-16A models but its more sophisticated. When we look at maintenance cost and total over the cost of ownership the Gripen leads the way. Its maintenance features designed for the Swedish military doctrine where the majority of support personnel are conscripts while the F-16 will rely on full-time support crew who need to require a strong knowledge about every area of the F-16.
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A superb jet fighter. Elegant and deadly. It is one of the smallest jet fighters in Europe and the most cost-effective. It uses the proven and reliable GE F404 engine which is also used in the F/A-18 Hornet!
Europe selected the F-16 over many contenders such as the Mirage F-1 and Saab Viggen. Here is the F-16 Block 1 with the black nose in the Belgium Air Force
The Gripen is a much newer design and the Swedish has shown that it’s got a lot more potential for growth so I strongly believe the Gripen will be around for quite some time probably in modified form as for how the F/A-18 Hornet has gone to..if you see what I mean. The F-16 could go the same way but I think the market demand is not there due to the introduction of the F-35. So Lockheed looking to explore further growth will probably at the customer expense if they need one.
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The F-16 plays an important role in protecting Norway’s airspace against the then Soviet intrusion. It also had an important secondary of attack and anti-shipping missions. It still plays the vital role in Norway and has been updated continuously to meet current and future threats!
In my view, I am truly in love with the earlier Viper models. The F-16A was truly a dogfighter. Its lightweight and less complexity have earned its reputation as a bad-ass air combat fighter.