The defense system of Sweden wants highly advanced combat aircraft, able to take off and land on all kind of runways, what means that the aircraft needs STOL abilities (Short take-off or landing). The Viggen was designed to be the replacement for the Saab 35 Draken Multirole aircraft. Studying concepts of the System 37 for the Swedish Air Force, the basic design for the Saab 37, begun in 1952. A versatile Multirole aircraft useable for the air to air role, the air to ground role and for reconnaissance roles was needed. Development of the Viggen begun in 1962. Saab selected a new design with Canards. This allowed it in combination with the powerful afterburning Pratt & Whitney JT8D engine the STOL abilities.
The landing gear was designed to withstand hard landings with high rates of descent up to 5 m/s, after touchdown the thrust reversal is activated, what allows it to land on very short runways. Unlike most of the modern aircraft, it is static stable. The planning in the 1960´s called for 832 units.
The first of the seven prototypes, the Viggen 37-1 was first flown by Erik Dahlström on 8th February 1967. One month later 83 aircraft and 17 trainer aircraft were ordered. The first flight of an operational Viggen was on 23rd February 1971.