Thailand’s first of at least six Saab Gripen C/Ds has made its first flight from the Swedish manufacturer’s Linköping facility.

Flown by a Saab test pilot, the two-seat Gripen D completed its 80min debut sortie on 16 September.

“The Royal Thai Air Force will start their training on Gripen in Sweden next year, and the fighters will be delivered to Thailand in 2011,” says Saab.

 Thai Gripen 1 - Gripen International

Thai Gripen 2 - Gripen International

Both images © Stefan Kalm/Gripen International

Sweden signed a production deal with Thailand in 2008 to supply the nation’s air force with six Gripens, plus two Saab 340s – one to be used for transport and training purposes, and the other configured with Saab Microwave Systems’ Erieye airborne early warning and control radar.

Bangkok had intended to place a follow-on order for a second batch of six Gripens earlier this year, but has suspended the move due to political and economic factors.