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PICTURE: Saab's Gripen E makes flight debut

Saab's first prototype Gripen E fighter has completed its debut flight from the company's Linköping site in Sweden.

Performed by test pilot Marcus Wandt on 15 June, the milestone sortie with aircraft 39-8 lasted 40min, says the manufacturer. The aircraft reached a planned maximum altitude of 13,000ft and 300kt (555km/h), it adds.

"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," Saab says.

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Saab

"The flight was just as expected, with the aircraft performance matching the experience in our simulations," says Wandt. "Its acceleration is impressive, with smooth handling."

Jonas Hjelm, head of Saab's aeronautics business area, notes that the first flight of the prototype was conducted "with the fully qualified software".

The company opted to place the fighter's new avionics system through this process, delaying the first-flight event from an original objective of late last year.

"This is about giving our customers a smart fighter system with the future designed in from the start," says Hjelm.

"Flight-test activities will continue to build on this achievement, with the programme on track to achieve the 2019 delivery schedule to our Swedish and Brazilian customers.

“The nations have so far ordered respective totals of 60 and 36 new Gripens, with the Brazilian air force also to field the type in a two-seat F-model configuration.

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