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SAAB's new Gripen E fighter makes successful maiden flight

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At 10:32 on Thursday June 15, Gripen E took off on its maiden flight, flown by a SAAB test pilot. The aircraft (designation 39-8) left from SAAB's airfield in Linkoping, Sweden and flew over the eastern parts of Ostergotland for 40 minutes. A SAAB photo/Facebook

STOCKHOLM (BNS): Swedish defence major SAAB has successfully test flown its new, next-generation fighter aircraft Gripen E for the first time on Thursday.

The advanced fighter, flown by a SAAB test pilot, took off  from the company's airfield in Linkoping, Sweden at 10.32 local time and flew over the eastern parts of Ostergotland for 40 minutes.

During the flight, the aircraft carried out a number of actions to demonstrate various test criteria including the retracting and extending of the landing gear, the aircraft manufacturer said in a statement.

"The flight was just as expected, with the aircraft performance matching the experience in our simulations. Its acceleration performance is impressive with smooth handling. Needless to say I'm very happy to have piloted this maiden flight," said Marcus Wandt, Experimental Test Pilot, SAAB.

SAAB will continue the flight test programme as it is scheduled to deliver the new aircraft to the Swedish Air Force in 2019.

The Brazilian Air Force has also ordered the Gripen E fighters.

Gripen E, unveiled in May 2016, was initially scheduled to be test flown that same year, but SAAB delayed the test flight to finalise all software related development of the new fighter.

The Gripen E has significantly improved avionics system when compared to previous versions of the Gripen. The capability to carry more weapons and improved range performance is possible with a more powerful engine and the ability to carry more fuel, according to SAAB.

The advanced fighter is equipped with a highly integrated and sophisticated sensor suite including an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Infra Red Search and Track (IRST), Electronic Warfare (EW) suite and datalink technology, which, when combined gives the pilot, and co-operating forces exactly the information needed at all times.

SAAB has offered the Gripen E fighter to India under the 'Make in India' initiative with transfer of technology.

India is looking for the acquisition of medium, multi-role, single engine fighter jets from a foreign vendor for its Air Force, with the Defence Ministry issuing a Request for Information (RFI) in this regard in October 2016.

The fighter jets would be built in India under transfer of technology to the selected Indian entity.

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