DN - Defence Notes

Paris Air Show: Gripen speeding through flight tests

10th June 2019 - 12:00 GMT | by Helen Haxell in Linköping

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The Gripen E’s flight testing programme is ramping up as Saab pushes the platform harder in the skies to meet the ever-evolving fighter jet demands for the Swedish and Brazilian air forces respectively.

In May of this year, the aircraft flew 9G and a ‘speed record’ was achieved during a test flight although Saab officials did not disclose the number reached.

Testing efforts in Sweden have seen the aircraft increasing its flight hours as Saab seeks to deliver the first Gripen E to the Swedish Air Force imminently, whilst Brazil must wait a little later into the year before it gets its hands on the aircraft.

In May 2019, the Gripen E reached 9G. (All Photos: Saab)

The 39-10 aircraft has now started flight tests adding to the overall expansion of the flight envelope.The tactical system testing is also being undertaken. Four test aircraft have now reached well in excess of 100 flight test hours.

On 10 June, the 39-10, the third Gripen E aircraft, took to the skies for 57 minutes. 

Six pilots currently work on the test programme with four dedicated to the E model. According to one test pilot the 39-8 aircraft has alone flown 100 hours, a benchmark that once met sees the platform undergo tests and inspections.

The test pilot shared further: ‘We have started testing the new EW system, it’s an ambitious system so we expect a lot from it. It’s built for a different environment compared with the old fighters' [missions]’.

Furthermore, the aircraft has been flown with a Meteor missile. In addition, the Gripen E’s weapon suite includes air-to-air capability such as AMRAAM, IRIS-T, AIM-9 missile capability. The avionics comprises , IR search and track passive sensor and HMD sensors.  

Another key area for the platform is its cockpit display development, a functionality which is shared by both the Swedish and Brazilian customers. This comprises of a wide area display, heads up display and helmet mounted display.

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Another key area for the platform is its cockpit display development, a functionality which is shared by both the Swedish and Brazilian customers. This comprises of a wide area display, heads up display and helmet mounted display.

Brazil has ordered 28 Gripen E single seat fighters and eight two seat fighters. The F version according to Mikael Franzén, VP and head of business unit Gripen Brazil at Saab, will have a similar rear to the E variant.

‘It’s around 65cm longer in the middle [of the aircraft], it just means rearranging the avionics, oxygen and power display systems,’ he said no less to cater for the additional pilot.

A similar procedure he shared was adopted with the equipment rearrangement between the B and D models – single to twin jet aircraft.

‘The rear [of the F] will stay as close to the E as possible.’ The Brazilian Air Force will receive its first aircraft in 2021 and will be known as the F-39 Gripen flying in 2022. Sweden has ordered 60 E-variants.

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