Saab's Gripen Demo aircraft has passed a significant milestone in its ongoing test programme, with the two-seater having on 21 January demonstrated its "supercruise" performance for the first time.
Company test pilot Magnus Ljungdahl says the aircraft was flown to a speed of more than Mach 1.2 at 28,000ft (8,540m) above the Baltic Sea, and adds: "Without using afterburner I maintained the same speed until I ran out of test area." The sortie was conducted from Saab's Linköping test centre.
Saab says the supercruise event forms part of a test campaign that will see the Gripen Demo (pictured below during an earlier test flight) flown at supersonic speeds carrying a variety of loads.
© Stefan Kalm/Gripen International
The current test aircraft is intended to de-risk new technologies for a Gripen NG model already being promoted to potential future buyers including Brazil, Denmark and Switzerland. These include the demonstrator's General Electric F414G engine and an active electronically scanned array radar that should enter flight-testing later this year.
"To show potential customers that Gripen can supercruise is an important milestone", says Gripen International marketing director Bob Kemp.