Saab has successfully completed the first flight of Gripen E, which is an advanced version of the Gripen C/D multi-role aircraft.

The test validated the fighter aircraft’s functions, including the ability to retract and extend its land gear.

Saab Business Area Aeronautics head senior vice-president Jonas Hjelm said: “Today we have flown this world-class fighter aircraft for the first time. We achieved it with the fully qualified software for the revolutionary avionics system. This is about giving our customers a smart fighter system with the future designed in it from the start.

“The flight test activities will continue to build on this achievement with the programme on track to achieve the 2019 delivery schedule to our Swedish and Brazilian customers.”

The Gripen E, which was piloted by a Saab test pilot, took off from the company’s airfield in Linköping, Sweden, on 15 June and flew over Östergötland for 40 minutes.

"Its acceleration performance is impressive with smooth handling."

Designated as 39-8, the aircraft is intended to replace the Swiss Air Force's fleet of Northrop F-5E/F Tiger.

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Saab experimental test pilot Marcus Wandt said: “The flight was just as expected, with the aircraft performance matching the experience in our simulations. Its acceleration performance is impressive with smooth handling." 

The 15.2m-long Gripen E can travel at a maximum speed of Mach 2 at high altitude, while the speed of the aircraft at low altitude is 1,400km/h.

The ten pylon stations allow the one-seater aircraft to carry reconnaissance pods, weapons and external fuel tanks.

Image: Designated as 39-8, Gripen E is intended to replace the Swiss Air Force's fleet of Northrop F-5E/F Tiger. Photo: courtesy of Saab AB.