@skyfire77 Bill Gunton's "Back To The Drawing Board" has a good entry on the Coleoptres. The illustration of a proposed civil version is the cherry on top as it includes a young lady about to board waving goodbye. Gunston said it was rather poignant because a civil version wouldn't likely have had an ejector seat.
Now, a different way of getting off the ground quickly explored by the U.S.:
@facw We'll never know what would have happened had they decided to abort the test when the computer flaked out. A successful test flight, even with a couple days delay, would have kept the mission on the front burner, maybe even enough to push approval. Not sure how they planned to insert the rescue force, but this seems like a more straight-forward plan than Eagle Claw.
@skyfire77 the SAAB jets are all just really cool, unique aircraft due to Sweden's distributed wartime airfield approach to operations and unique needs for air, sea and land defense. The Viggen seems to have been a hell of a plane, cutting edge technology, engineering and performance for such a small operating airforce. My head is still spinning at the idea of a 4 hour engine replacement.
Flogger pilots were confident that they could defeat USAF F-4 Phantoms, but the new F-16 Falcons were judged to be a fair match, and the F-15 Eagles were feared.
Funnily enough the -23s that aren't the export specials might have come out ahead of the Viper, since early Vipers didn't have BVR capabilities, strike fighter first and all that.
The Flogger's advanced design and ongoing QC issues
The cockpit design isn't very good, although it is from the age before ergonomics were seriously considered in aircraft cockpit design. Early variants also handled horribly at high angles of attack. Some Constant Peg accounts go as far as to say that it tried to kill them every flight... and one actually killed General Robert Bond, although stupidity on his part also did a lot of work (pretty surprised you didn't manage to wedge that in).
@skyfire77 In addition to the exports you mentioned, South Africa worked with IAI to integrate many of the Kfir's improvements into their Mirage III fleet, creating the fairly similar Atlas Cheetah:
South Africa no longer operates the type, but Ecuador has bought some of the retired planes, and Draken operates them as agressors.