Why are some fighter aircraft designed to be unstable? It’s because in a supersonic aircraft, stability will only mean the resistance to change, thus limiting or making maneuverability impossible. In other words, the more stable the aircraft, the more difficult it is to turn and pitch quickly in a complex battle scenario. A YouTube channel called Millennium 7* HistoryTech explains this more extensively in their latest series, Gripen-The Design Chronicles. The series tries to shed light on various reasons behind the technological choices made during the design and development phase of the Gripen aircraft.
It all began when Saab was tasked to create an aircraft solution that would not only become the staple of the Swedish Air Defence but also a contender for export orders for decades to come. The aim was to keep up with other modern foreign technologies while creating an ideal aircraft for both air combat and attack. Striking the right balance meant bringing in a synergy between the specifications needed to fulfil the two roles, along with the right aerodynamics, structure, and propulsion of the aircraft. Since Saab already had decades of experience in the delta canard layout from the Viggen programme, it was only natural for them to use the expertise to design the next fighter aircraft for Sweden.
Watch the first, second and third video to know more about the history of Gripen design.