Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Saab J35 Draken: The Most Beautiful Jet in the World?

It was designed back in the mid 1950s as a state-of-the-art supersonic capable interceptor for the Swedish Air Force as a defense against marauding Soviet-era bombers, does the Saab Draken still deserve the title as the most beautiful jet fighter in the world?

 By: Ringo Bones

 As it was slowly phased out during the latter half of the 1990s, quite a large number of Seattle Grunge Rock fans have noticed that somewhat obvious Swedish Saab J35 Draken flyby 4 minutes and 4 seconds into the music video of Burden In My Hand by Soundgarden back in 1996. Many of the "Young Turks" marveled the beauty of the Draken's double-delta design and was somewhat crestfallen when they found out a few weeks later that the jet was made in Sweden as opposed to being made in the good old US of A. So there are still people who marveled at its beauty near its retirement back then - but 15 or so years on, can the Swedish Saab J35 Draken still deserve being called the most beautiful jet aircraft in the world?

 Well, given that the F-22 Raptor has been described as a "bad elementary school origami" by some under-15 aerospace enthusiasts, and it seems like Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda never established their own aerospace industry to rival the big-wigs Boeing and Lockheed-Martin into some form of post Cold War aerospace beauty pageant using new generation of fighter planes. Then, it seems like the Swedish Saab J35 Draken may be in the foreseeable future may still be called and deserving of the title as the most beautiful jet fighter in the world - bar none.

 Looking back, it seems like the Saab Draken's most striking feature of it's "beauty" was its double-delta wing design that not just enable it to fly at very high speeds and altitutes to intercept incoming squadrons of bombers, but also to enable the jet to carry more fuel and weapons that conventionally-winged designs. Oh by the way, most Swedish jet fighters designed after World War II are capable in taking off and landing on ordinary asphalted motorways - which is a plus if your lucky enough to afford a mothballed second hand Saab J35 Draken these days. Which some say only the XB-70 Valkyrie rivals it in sheer beauty, right?


  1. I don't know about the XB-70 Valkyrie competing with the Swedish Saab J35 Draken, but I do remember that Soundgarden music video - Burden In My Hand - when a (as I then know a few days later thanks to those Discovery Channel old fighter jet documentaries) Saab Draken did a flyby 4 minutes and 4 seconds into Soundgarden's music video.

  2. Thanks for noticing the Saab Draken in that Soundgarden music video, April. I too am stunned on why Soundgarden chose a Swedish Saab J35 Draken to do a flyby in their music video instead of a home-grown American high-performance jet fighter like the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-14 Tomcat or the just entered service back in 1996 with a couple of Pratt & Whitney F100 afterburning turbofan engines - the F-18 Superhornet.

  3. Given that the last operational flight of the Swedish Saab J35 Draken was in 1993, how come one was seen flying in a Soundgarden music video that was probably shot no earlier than 1995?

  4. The Draken was in Swedish Air force service until 1999

  5. Soundgarden's Burden In My Hand music video was released back in June 1996 and the Swedish Saab J35 Draken used in the music video was operated out of the Mojave Air & Space Port. And by 1998, the Draken was even mistaken - by the not aeronauticaliy literate folks watching MTV - as the F-22 Raptor at this point in time.