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Saab Flies First Production Gripen E For Swedish Air Force.

| 2019

Saab has flown the first series-production Gripen E aircraft for Sweden, the company announced on 3 December. An image of aircraft 6002 flying in a new splinter tri-tone grey camouflage pattern reminiscent of the Swedish Air Force's (SwAF's) green and brown scheme from the Cold War was released by the company.

Saab Flies First Production Gripen E For Swedish Air Force 925 001 The first production Swedish Gripen E wears a splinter camouflage (Picture source: SAAB)

The first series-production Gripen E for Sweden has made its initial flight, piloted by Försvarets Materielverk (FMV, defence materiel administration) test pilot Henrik Wänseth, Saab announced on December 3. Serialed 6002, the aircraft displayed a splinter camouflage that is redolent of the “fields and meadows” worn for many years by Swedish military aircraft.

A week before, the second Gripen E test aircraft, designated 39-9, took off on its maiden flight. The test flight was operated from Saab’s airfield at Linköping, Sweden, with Saab test pilot Robin Nordlander at the controls.

“Some people think being a test pilot is the most exciting job in the world and it should be. Flying Gripen E means breaking no sweat though, even on a maiden flight such as this. The flight was so smooth and 39-9 a real pleasure to pilot. I am looking forward to getting it back in the air again and soon putting the new systems to the test,” says Robin Nordlander, Experimental Test Pilot, Saab.

During the 33 minutes long flight, the pilot carried out a number of actions to validate flight characteristics and various test criteria, such as the software, life support system and radio system.

“It is very satisfying to see the second Gripen E aircraft join the flight test programme as planned. This new aircraft allows us to expand the trial activities as we test more functionality with on-board systems whilst, with two aircraft now flying, we are increasing the overall pace of testing. The programme continues to deliver good progress and to generate interest as our customers and others are keen to see and learn more about the capabilities Gripen E is going to give their pilots”, says Jonas Hjelm, head of Saab business area Aeronautics.

The next phase in the test programme for Gripen 39-9 is testing of the tactical systems and sensors.

Sweden is due to receive the first of 60 Gripen Es before the end of the year, with deliveries running through to 2026. The only international customer to date, Brazil, has ordered an initial batch of 28 Gripen Es and eight twin-seat Gripen Fs to be delivered between 2021 and 2024. Both countries have left open the option for further procurements.

Gripen E/F has weapons for all types of mission, from guided glide bombs for precision engagement with low collateral damage, to long-range and agile air-to-air missiles and heavy anti-ship armaments. Additionally, the aircraft has an inherent precision strike and stand-off capability.

The single-seat Gripen E is equipped with a 27 mm Mauser BK27 gun. This can be used in air-to-surface attacks against land and sea targets and is suitable for air policing missions. Gripen E/F can also carry pods and sensors for reconnaissance and special missions. These include Litening, Reccelite, DJRP and MRPS pods.

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