What's that? You didn't know that Saab built jets? They actually were making aircraft years before they started building cars.
The Draken ("Dragon" or "Kite") was Saab's first attempt at a supersonic jet. For a first try they got an awful lot right. First flown in 1955, it had an incredibly long career, serving until 1998 in Sweden and all the way to 2005 in Austria.
Plus it looks really cool. I personally consider it one of the best looking jets ever built.
Sweden is an interesting case. They were officially neutral during the Cold War, but their sympathies lay with the West. They also know they live in tough neighborhood, being as close to Russia as they are. I'd best describe their defense posture as "We're neutral but you'd better not come in here if you know what's good for you."
It's obvious where the name came from.
That would be a tall order for any aircraft company but Saab came through.
Saab's designers came up with a small (30 ft wingspan), lightweight (17,000 lbs), single-engine fighter with a revolutionary wing design.
The second prototype was the "full up" version. The little Saab turned out be a real hot-rod. It broke the sound barrier on its first flight unintentionally - plus it was climbing at the time.
The Draken uses a "double delta" wing. Sometimes called a "Compound Delta" or a "Cranked Arrow". It's essentially two wings in one. The forward half is very sharply swept, giving excellent high-speed capabilities. The rear half has relatively little sweep for good low-speed handling.
The other cool thing about Swedish jets is that they're a hodgepodge of parts from different countries. The Draken used a British engine, the Rolls Royce Avon, produced under license. The RAF's Lightning used two of these engines while the Saab achieved comparable performance (and better range) with just one. That should tell you just how good the design was. The Draken used the excellent (for the time) Cyrano radar and fire-control system from the French Mirage III. Its missiles were American AIM-9 Sidewinders, license-built as the RB24.
It had all the qualities of a great interceptor: speed, rate of climb, ceiling plus the ability to turn. The delta wing reportedly gave great instantaneous turn capability but probably bled airspeed quickly.
All in all excellent performance for a plane designed in the mid 50's and built in the early 60's. Quite comparable to its peers but with the added ability to operate from a short stretch of highway.
How would it do in a dogfight? Hey, I'm a bomber guy, what do I know? My guess is it would have held its own. It was faster than a MiG-21 and could certainly out turn a MiG-23 (most things would). In the end it comes down to the pilot and the tactics. I would say advantage Sweden.
Otherwise it had few vices. In typical delta-wing fashion the landing attitude is fairly nose-high. Eventually a set of "roller-skate wheels" were added to the tail to prevent dragging the tail on landing.
Oddly enough the Austrian Drakens didn't get missiles until 1993. By treaty they weren't allowed to have them. That was dropped when Yugoslavia started violating their airspace.
Sweden replaced theirs with the excellent Saab Viggen (Lightning) and Gripen (Griffin). The Viggen will get its own diary at some future date.