Swedish aerospace company Saab has performed the first flight of the third Gripen E test aircraft from its airfield in Linköping, Sweden.

Designated 39-10, the aircraft was flown by Saab Gripen test pilot Jakob Högberg. The third Gripen E test aircraft flew for 57 minutes.

The test aircraft performed in the same manner as the two previous Gripen E aircraft, 39-8 and 39-9, which underwent test flights in June 2017 and November 2018 respectively.

Högberg said: “During the flight, I tested all the basic systems in the aircraft to see the handling qualities, the gear and engine for example.

“A first flight is always a first flight, but it was perhaps not a very eventful one as the aircraft flew just like its siblings, which is excellent of course. In summary, we had a nice hour in the nice weather today.”

Prior to the maiden flight, 39-10 underwent test runs, reported ainonline.com. The Gripen E programme is progressing with the four production aircraft nearing completion. Further tests are lined up later this year.

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Saab has to date tested weapon systems on the fighter jet, including MBDA’s Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile and Diehl’s short-range IRIS-T air-to-air weapon.

Earlier this year, Jane’s reported that one of the first four Gripen E multirole aircraft will be delivered to the Brazilian Air Force. The remaining three will be used as validation and verification aircraft for Sweden’s Gripen E programme.

“The Gripen E programme is progressing with the four production aircraft nearing completion.”

Saab is expected to make the deliveries by the end of this year.

The company offered Gripen E in response to a request for proposal issued by Swiss defence procurement agency armasuisse for Swiss New Fighter Aircraft procurement in July last year.

The Gripen fighter is in service with five nations, including South Africa, Czech Republic, Hungary and Thailand. Sweden and Brazil placed orders with Saab for the aircraft.

Designed to tackle and defeat advanced future threats, the E-series features a new powerful engine, improved range performance and the ability to carry greater payloads.

The aircraft is equipped with advanced radars and electronic warfare and communication systems.