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PICTURE: Saab's second Gripen E makes flight debut

Saab's Gripen E flight-test programme made a significant advance on 26 November, when a second aircraft joined the activity.

Flown from the Swedish manufacturer's Linkoping site, test aircraft 39-9 completed a 33min debut sortie, more than 17 months after its first example had taken to the air, in June 2017.

Describing the new asset's debut – which included validating its flight characteristics and checking flight control system software – as "smooth", Saab experimental test pilot Robin Nordlander says: "I am looking forward to getting it back in the air again and soon putting the new systems to the test."

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"This new aircraft allows us to expand the trial activities as we test more functionality with on-board systems," says Saab aeronautics head Jonas Hjelm. "With two aircraft now flying, we are increasing the overall pace of testing.

Saab says aircraft 39-9 will next be involved in testing of the Gripen E's tactical systems and sensors.

The air forces of Sweden and Brazil have ordered a combined 96 of the new-generation type, with deliveries to both customers set to start in the second half of 2019.