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Saab to fly Future Gripen by late 2008

Saab, meanwhile, expects to fly a two-seat demonstrator for an increased-size Future Gripen by late 2008, with risk-sharing partners including General Electric, Honeywell, Terma and Thales now onboard.

The aircraft's outer mould line has not yet been frozen, but windtunnel tests have recently been conducted by Switzerland's Ruag. The design features a relocated and strengthened main undercarriage, two additional stores pylons and a 35-40% increase in internal fuel capacity. "We have been very pleased with what we have seen, and with the performance of the [GE] F414 engine," says Lehander.

Hungary's last three of 14 Gripens will be delivered by year-end, while the second of 28 to be produced for launch export customer South Africa will fly for the first time in December. The latter nation's first example will enter service next March.

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