The new Swedish fighter jet, the JAS 39 Gripen E of the Saab Group – one of the four candidates to succeed the Belgian F-16 – made its first flight on Thursday, announced the aircraft manufacturer, which plans to start deliveries in 2019. “At 10:32 am on Thursday, 15 June, 2017, the Gripen E, piloted by a Saab test pilot, completed its first flight. The airplane (referred to as the 39-8) took off from the Saab airfield in Linköping and flew over the eastern parts of the Östergötland for 40 minutes. During the flight, the aircraft carried out several actions to demonstrate various test criteria, including retraction and extension of the landing gear” Saab said in a statement.
“The flight took place exactly as expected with the performance of the aircraft corresponding to the experience in the simulator.” The performance of the aircraft’s acceleration is impressive while maintaining flexible control. I am very happy to have piloted this inaugural flight”, said Saab test driver Marcus Wandt, quoted in the statement.
The first flight took place thirteen months after the prototype was released from the factory.
Presented as a “new generation multi-purpose fighter”, this aircraft aims to compete with fighters that are theoretically more powerful than the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter of the American group Lockheed Martin, the Rafale of the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault or the “Eurofighter of the eponymous European consortium – all also in contention for the Belgian market, which will comprise 34 new combat aircraft, planned for acquisition in spring of 2018 for an amount of 3.573 billion euros.