Saab has launched the first test aircraft of the next generation Gripen E, which is an improved version of the Gripen C/D multi-role aircraft.
The move keeps the company on track to deliver the fighter aircraft to the Swedish Air Force by 2018 to replace the Air Force’s fleet of Northrop F-5E/F Tiger.
Saab aeronautics business area head Ulf Nilsson said: "There is huge global interest in the Gripen fighter system and we are now ready to present the first Gripen E.
"We look forward to sharing this important event with both guests and viewers.
"This key milestone is proof of our ability to build world-class fighters on time and on budget and it brings us one step closer to first flight and delivery to our customer."
The 15.2m-long Gripen E with wingspan of 8.6m can travel at a maximum speed of Mach 2 at high-altitude, while the speed at low-altitude is 1,400kmph.
Saab’s Gripen E is a one seater aircraft that has been built to adapt to changing threats and operational requirements that air forces currently face.
This fully Nato-interoperable fighter is customised for the future network centric warfare (NCW) environment, Saab said in a statement.
The Gripen E is equipped with Selex’s ES-05 Raven active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system, which provides an angular field of view of 100° and look behind capability.
It also features a passive infrared search-and-track (IRST) sensor system and Rafael’s Litening III Laser Designation Pod (LDP) that helps when attacking ground targets using laser-guided bombs.
The aircraft is powered by General Electric’s F414G turbofan engine rated at 22,000lbs (98kN).
Image: A Gripen E aircraft being built. Photo: courtesy of Saab AB.