The UK Empire Test Pilots' School has signed a contract extension with Swedish manufacturer Saab to gain continued access to its Gripen fighter this year.

Continuing a relationship first established in 1999, the deal will see three instructor pilots and seven students from the Netherlands, Pakistan, Singapore, Switzerland and the UK Royal Air Force fly a two-seat Gripen at Linköping, Sweden for a total of 77h during May and August-September 2008.

Saab has long viewed the Qinetiq/UK Ministry of Defence-operated ETPS organisation as a potential future buyer for the Gripen. "We are fully committed to supporting the future aspirations the ETPS may have for Gripen," says executive vice-president Lennart Sindahl.

ETPS use of the Gripen between 2005 and 2007 resulted in no flights lost due to unserviceability, and "all teaching goals exceeded", says Saab.

Source: Flight International