For sale: Saab J35 Draken fighter jet in Stockton, California
Military interceptor at Stockton airport can be had for $175,000
By Reed Fujii
Record Staff Writer
August 26, 2010 12:00 AM
At the beginning of the jet age, Sweden sought a high-altitude air defense interceptor. Saab aviation engineers responded by building the J35 Draken, a single-seat, delta-wing fighter able to take on MiGs in supersonic dogfights. After first entering service in 1960, the aircraft proved capable and durable, and it eventually was employed by the military in Denmark, Finland and Austria, as well as in Sweden, before being retired in the 1990s and as late as 2005.
But one now sits outside a hangar at Stockton Metropolitan Airport, gathering dust and playing host to paper wasp nests; a Cold War warrior grounded by the high price of jet fuel and its owner's financial woes. "It's a unique bird, and it's a shame to see it sit," said Verlyn Wolfe of Wolfe Aviation, who has been trying to find a buyer for the Draken (Swedish for kite) for nearly five years. With its innovative double-delta wing design, the aviation hot rod has a top speed of Mach 2 and can fly as high as 60,000 feet, requiring use of a pressure suit. With full afterburners, it can climb 34,450 feet per minute.
Although disarmed, it was originally outfitted with two 30mm automatic cannons and could carry Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. The fighter was renovated in 2000 and for a time saw use in promotions and at air shows. A video of its 2003 appearance at the Reno Air Show (which can be found on Youtube) shows its aluminum skin sporting the name of a Sacramento auto dealer. Once priced at $499,000, the Draken is listed at $175,000 and would likely go for less with a solid offer.
While Wolfe said he is negotiating with an aircraft collector for the sale of the Draken - and he has received some interest from an air museum - there are a couple of reasons potential buyers are put off. One is fuel cost. "The price of fuel has skyrocketed over the last several years," Wolfe said. Fuel runs a minimum $5 a gallon, and the plane can gulp 450 to 525 gallons an hour at cruising speed. Kick in the afterburners for maximum thrust and it'll burn 100 gallons a minute. Another drawback is a lack of spare parts and tools.
The aircraft had a full inventory of such materials, including a spare engine and ground support equipment, but those were sold to pay an overdue storage bill.
And not just anyone can fly the Draken. To qualify, a pilot would have to have 1,000 hours in a turbine aircraft, then take a specialized training course to become familiar with the plane. And, of course, supersonic flight is not allowed over the United States, except beyond 12 miles off the coast or over Edwards Air Force Base with advance notice.
"Quite frankly, the real sale of this would be to somebody who could really go through this thing and turn it into shape for air shows," Wolfe said, or perhaps to an aviation museum. "It is a piece of history."
Verlyn Wolfe of Wolfe Aviation stands next to his Cold War-era Saab J35 Draken fighter jet at Stockton Metropolitan Airport. Wolfe has been trying to sell the jet for nearly five years.
The single-seat cockpit of a Cold War-era Saab J-35 Draken fighter jet at the Stockton Metropolitan Airport. Fuel runs a minimum of $5 a gallon, and the jet can gulp 500 gallons an hour at cruising speed.
Last edited by Frank Wulfers; 27 August 2010 at 15:02.
Last edited by Frank Wulfers; 27 August 2010 at 14:58.
Download PDF document with full details from Wolfe Aviation: 1964_Saab_J35_Draken_Interceptor.pdf
The Saab 35 Draken (Dragon) is a second-generation supersonic interceptor with a distinctive double delta wing. The decision to develop the Saab 35 Draken supersonic fighter, which introduced what was perhaps the most daring chapter so far in the history of the Swedish aircraft industry, had been taken as far back as 1949. After much research including flight-testing of a 70 percent scale aircraft, the first prototype of the innovative double-delta Draken flew in late 1955 and Sweden’s first Mach 2 fighter was a reality, entering production in 1957.
The J35A Draken entered service in 1959 and was followed by five different versions for the Swedish Air Force, including the all-weather J35F with its then advanced radar, infra-red search and track system, and both radar and IR guided missiles. In all, 612 Drakens were built between 1955 and 1972. Of these, 51 were exported to Denmark, Finland assembled 12 under license and later bought a number of ex-Swedish aircraft, and Austria ordered 24 modified Drakens.
The single-seat combat aircraft has, a single engine and is equipped with two 30mm automatic cannons and Sidewinder air-to-air guided weapons. The fuselage is round with small canopy, extending beyond the trailing edge of the tail fin, which is small and is highly swept along both leading and trailing edge. Small oval air intakes are located on either side of the fuselage. There are several versions of this aircraft and the type can operate from small airfields.
Last edited by Frank Wulfers; 27 August 2010 at 14:58.
This website says the 12 aircraft assembled in Finland from kits were made in 1974-1975. Five aircraft for Denmark were "hand built" in 1973, after the assembly line closed the year earlier. Austria did not get the aircraft until 1987-1989, 17 years after the assembly line closed. Austria got refurbished aircraft previously used by Sweden.
The Gripen has had more success in overseas sales. South Africa operates it, as well as Hungary, Czech Republic, and Thailand. The Brazilian air force reportedly selected it but the President wants to buy a French fighter. The winner of the Indian competition has not yet been announced but there are unconfirmed reports that the Gripen will not be selected.
Mods, please move to classifieds