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Gripen E makes first flight
Gripen E first flight. © Saab

Gripen E makes first flight

Saab’s Gripen E, an upgraded version of the Gripen combat aircraft ordered by Sweden and Brazil, made a successful first flight on 15th June.

Swedish defence and security company Saab completed a successful first flight of the Gripen E combat aircraft on 15th June, on the eve of the Paris Air Show. The aircraft (designation 39-8) took off, flown by a Saab test pilot, at 10:32. The flight, from Saab’s airfield in Linköping, Sweden continued over the eastern parts of Östergötland for 40 minutes.

During the flight, made with fully qualified software, the aircraft carried out a number of actions to demonstrate various test criteria including the retracting and extending of the landing gear.

“The flight was just as expected, with the aircraft performance matching the experience in our simulations. Its acceleration performance is impressive with smooth handling,” said Marcus Wandt, Experimental Test Pilot, Saab.

Unveiled in May 2016, Gripen E features upgraded avionics and a more powerful GE F414G engine offering improved range and an enhanced weapons load capability. The new Gripen features a maximum takeoff weight of 16.5t — compared to 14t for the Gripen C — an empty weight of 8t and an internal fuel load of 3.4t. It can carry three underslung tanks.

The Gripen E sensor suite includes a Selex ES-05 Raven Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a nose-mounted Infra Red Search and Track (IRST) unit (also from Selex), Electronic Warfare (EW) suite, and datalink technology.

The aircraft offers nine hardpoints. Air-to-air superiority is achieved with Meteor, AMRAAM, IRIS-T and AIM-9 missile capability and supercruise. Air-to-surface capability is assured through the use of the latest-generation precision weapons and targeting sensors. The Gripen E is also equipped with a 27mm Mauser BK27 gun.

In addition to Sweden (which has committed for 60 aircraft), the new Gripen has been ordered by Brazil, under the designation Gripen NG (36 aircraft).

The company says that the programme is on track to achieve the 2019 delivery schedule to its Swedish and Brazilian customers.

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