The Draken (“dragon”) is a Swedish single-seat all-weather interceptor. The first serial production aircraft were handed over to the Swedish Air Force in the spring of 1960. 615 Drakens were built in nine variants. In addition to Sweden, the fighter was in use in Austria, Denmark and Finland.
The Draken had already been shortlisted among the Finnish Air Force’s fighter candidates in the early 1960s. However, mainly for political reasons, Finland decided to acquire MiG-21F-13s, which lacked an all-weather combat capability. When the Air Force started improving its all-weather capabilities, the Draken was chosen, as the sole candidate, as the service’s first all-weather interceptor. At that time, the choice of the Swedish aircraft was also intended to emphasise Finland’s neutrality. An order for the first 12 Drakens was inked in April 1970. The aircraft were assembled at Valmet. Six used J 35B Drakens stripped of the radar were leased from Sweden for training. The first Draken assembled in Finland rolled off the assembly line in March 1974. Additional aircraft in various versions were purchased in the 1970s and 1980s.
A total of 48 Drakens saw service in Finland.
Wing span 9.42 m; Maximum speed c. 2,000 km/h (mach 1.7); Length 15.34 m; Altitude 3.90 m.