On 25 October 1953, a J 32 Lansen attained a Mach? number of at least 1.12 while in a shallow dive, exceeding the sound barrier. In December 1955, deliveries of the A 32A attack variant formally commenced, allowing the swift retirement of the last piston-powered B 18 bomber from Swedish service shortly thereafter. According to Bill Gunston and Peter Gilchrist, the A 32A provided to be extremely effective, both in terms of serviceability and the accuracy of its armaments. Between 1958 and 1960, a total of 54 S32 C reconnaissance aircraft were manufactured. The last Lansen to be built was delivered to the Flygvapnet on 2 May 1960.
One intended use for the A 32A was as an aerial delivery system for nuclears or chemical weapons. During the 1950s and 1960s, Sweden had operated a nuclear weapons program, however no such weapons were ever produced by Sweden.
Accidents destroyed a third of all Lansens during 25 years of service, killing 100 crew along with 7 civilians in Vikbo. The accidents were due to a combination of technical faults, the aircraft not being ready for service, and training deficiencies in regards to flying at night and in adverse weather. In the 1960 Vikbo crash, pilot Uno Magnusson's A 32A suffered an engine outage, Magnusson ejected before it crashed into a farmhouse, killing all seven civilian occupants. The crash was due to a known fault which occurred when a drop tank was fitted; the J32 B had been forbidden from using the drop tank. Replacement parts to correct the fault were available at the base but had not yet been fitted. The crash's causes were suppressed from the public by the Flygvapnet press office; as the victims were civilians, they were not included in official accident statistics.
The A 32 Lansen was Sweden's last purpose-built attack aircraft. The replacement of the A 32A formally began in June 1971, the more advanced Saab 37 Viggen being slowly used to take over its attack responsibilities. As the type was gradually being replaced by more modern types, the Saab 32 continued to be operated into the late 1990s as target tugs and electronic warfare platforms. By 2010, at least two Lansens were still operational, having the sole task of taking high altitude air samples for research purposes in collaboration with the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority; one of these collected volcanic ash samples in mid 2010.