The 31st of December 2020 marked the final operational flight of the Austrian Air Force Saab J105OË and the withdrawal of the 12-remaining aircraft. The Saab 105 has been in active service for almost 50 years serving the role of elementary jet raining at Hörsching Air Base with Fliegerregiment 3.
On 26 November 2020, 2 Saab 105 jets flew low over parts of Austria, including Salzburg and Graz, to symbolically greet the nation and make one last photo shoot. During their farewell tour, the two planes also headed to Kolomansberg to greet the radar specialists who operate the air surveillance station located in the area, before returning to their home base in Hörsching near Linz.
The Saab 105 is a Swedish high-wing, twinjet trainer aircraft developed in the early 1960s as a private venture by Saab AB. The aircraft was developed to function as a small and inexpensive multirole aircraft. It is an all-metal twin-jet aircraft with a pressurized cabin featuring a T-tail configuration, modestly swept wings, and a pair of engines mounted on either side of the fuselage just underneath the wing.
In addition to the 72 aircraft built for the Swedish Air Force, Austria initially purchased a total of 40 Saab 105 lightweight multi-role aircraft with the intention to deploy them in trainer, reconnaissance, interception and ground attack roles which were acquired from the Saab factory in Linkoping in two batches between 1970 and 1972 to replace the Saab 29 Tunnan. The Saab 105 could also be used as a four-seat VIP transport and for air sampling duties. In the attack role the Saab 105OE can provide close air support with rocket launchers for 7,5 cm unguided rockets or with a gun pod with 30 mm canon.
In the 1980s it became clear that the sub-sonic aircraft were inadequate for air combat and airspace interdiction, therefore Austria purchased 28 reconditioned Saab 35 Draken fighter aircraft to replace the Saab 105 as the Austrian Air Force’s main interceptor in 1988. The Saab 105 remained in service as a trainer and surveillance aircraft.
In 2021, Austria will only have to rely on its 15 Eurofighters for air defense as Vienna has not yet made any decisions on replacing the Swedish-made light jet. Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner said last summer that they would not consider a replacement for the Saab before the end of the dispute with Airbus about the alleged fraud in the Eurofighter affair. The Austrian Air Force’s 15 Tranche 1 Eurofighters will remain until at least as long as the current contract with Airbus runs whilst pilot training moves overseas.