Gripen E Next Generation Smart Fighter Makes Successful First Flight

First flight success for Gripen E

On Thursday June 15, at 10:32LT, the Gripen E aircraft (designation 39-8) took off on its maiden flight from Saab’s airfield in Linköping, Sweden.

Flown by a Saab test pilot, the aircraft flew over the eastern parts of Östergötland for 40 minutes and along with retracting and extending the landing gear, carried out a number of basic maneuvers.

“The flight was just as expected, with the aircraft performance matching the experience in our simulations. Its acceleration performance is impressive with smooth handling. Needless to say I’m very happy to have piloted this maiden flight,” says Marcus Wandt, Experimental Test Pilot, Saab, in a statement.

The aircraft, a new multirole variant of the Gripen fighter, based on the proven C/D platforms tailored for the future Network Centric Warfare (NCW) environment, was officially unveiled at the company base in Likoping, Sweden, on May 18, 2016.

The aircraft is much similar to its predecessor: an IRST (Infra Red Search and Track) bump in front of the cockpit in the nose section as well as the missile warning system on the air intakes are the main external differentiators.


According to Saab, Gripen E offers operational dominance and flexibility with superior mission survivability. Air-to-air superiority is guaranteed with METEOR, AMRAAM, IRIS-T, AIM-9 missile capability and supercruise.


Air-to-surface capability is assured through the use of the latest generation precision weapons and targeting sensors. Gripen E’s superior situation awareness is ensured through an AESA radar, IRST passive sensor, HMD (Helmet Mounted Display), cutting-edge avionics, next generation data processing and a state-of-the-art cockpit.


Furthermore, its Network Centric Warfare capabilities include advanced data communications, dual data links, satellite communications and video links. On-board sensors, in combination with HMD/NVG, deliver the ability to detect and destroy a wide variety of targets, even at night or in poor weather conditions.




“This is an important milestone in the development programme of Gripen E, of which first deliveries to Sweden and Brazil are expected by 2019. Gripen E has been designed with the future in mind, incorporating the most advanced technology and providing excellent tactical flexibility. As a truly multi-role fighter, fully NATO-interoperable, we are very confident that Gripen E meets the demanding operational requirements expressed by the Belgian Air Force as it seeks to replace its current fleet of fighter aircraft,” Per Alriksson, Campaign Director for Gripen in Belgium, said.

“Gripen E differs also from any other fighter aircraft with unrivalled cost efficiency in combination with advanced technology and operational effectiveness.”

The Gripen single-engine multirole fighter aircraft has already had some important export successes: the baseline JAS-39C currently serves with the Swedish, South African, Czech, Hungarian and Royal Thai Air Force, and there are orders in place in Brazil and Sweden, and some good chances to win other interesting bids, including Switzerland.

H/T Henry Blom for the heads-up




About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


    • This is the first fighter in the world history to separate flight critical (certified) system with tactical (new feature apps based) system. Similar to comparing a smartphone w an old motorola or nokia, the latter is e.g.F35 which will not get a system like this until Block 4 rev 4 (scheduled at the earliest 2025).THIS IS WHY IT IS CALLED SMART!!!!

    • It will simply wipe the ass or tail of the Viper. BVR w Meteor w a killing zone 4 times that of the Viper, Supercruise, GaN-EWS (US lack this tech), TIDLS – i.e. it can hunt together in a 4 ship wolfpack (F35 w 3F so far not capable/not working), in WVR it would be a slaughter w IRIS-T and HMD, so on ….

  1. ..the United States (Canada, NATO..) should purchase these very excellent Saab Gripen-E jet fighters, and assemble them in Boeing’s empty St. Louis factory! This would be a better choice, than the problem plagued, F-35 Lightning turkeys!

  2. Cannot compete with F-35. Both cost $80M (at least F-35 will at FRP) so why would any nation buy a 4th gen single engine aircraft when they can have 5th gen stealth at the same price? Oh the Gripen supports will scream at that one but I will declare with 100% certainty – few nations will purchase Gripen. Few nations have purchased Gripen. The only way it might sell a few is if the price were way lower than the F-35. Say $40M per copy. But that won’t happen either.

    Then it has to compete with F-16, which Saab never has been able to do. It’s not even close. And poor air forces from third-world countries like Iran, Argentina, and Myanmar (others) will look at (or are already committed to) offerings from Russia and China.

    Lots of celebrating going on here but in the end, when this doesn’t sell, Saab may exit the fighter business. That would be the company’s best decision.

    • Depends, will Saab let owners do maintenance on the jet without using their supply chain?

      • This aircraft can be repaired with a conscript crew in the forest. Engine change about an hour, pretty much eveything can be repaired or maintenaced near the fronline.

    • Jesus leroy, I’ve noticed you seem offended as soon as there is a post about Gripen. Why the aggression? Did someone from SAAB taunt you as a child?

    • Comparing the Gripen E/F to the F-35 is mindless, IMHO. Two different generation and philosofies, not to mention doctrines. Also, you’re out of your mind if you think the Gripen E/F cost as much as the F-35. In fact, they are being built for less than half of that value. Yeah, both F-35 and Gripen prices will become lower as more aircraft are being acquired, but if you factor in regular maintenance costs you’ll come ot the conclusion that the Gripen will be far cheaper to operate than the F-35A.

      The F-16 is a superb aircraft and no one with half a brain can deny that. Its operational history with a number of air forces can attest to that, but it’s also been coming to the end of the line when it comes to expansion of the design itself. Even Israel seem to have come to that conclusion and ordered F-35’s. It’ll always be able to incorporate new and spectacular radars and other avionics, as far as external upgrades like conformal fuel tanks and some other externaly mounted gadgets go, it’s come full circle. The Gripen E/F competes with the F-16 as is and it’s cheaper to acquire and maintain. What it lacks is the Sweden’s capability to offer a nicer off-set package than the US can, which is doubtfull, but it still can offer more in the way of transfer of technology than the US usually is willing to do, but that’ll vary from country to country.

      Being Brazilian, I might be accused of being biased towards the Gripen, but at the time of the bid, it was the lowest in my personal list of choices after the Rafale and Super Hornet, but all three of them are excellent aircraft and either choice would have the Brazilian Air Force well served. Also, the US approached Brazil about a possible sale of F-35’s (something which probably won’t be repeated for the foreseeable future), and that possibility was flat out rejected due to high costs.

      Historically, SAAB always designed pretty good combat aircraft, more than able to meet its own needs and were never huge export hits, but were still superb. Situation changed a bit with the Gripen and now they seem to have higher need for profit. We’ll see what happens, but they’ve always seem to come up with some pretty creative designs.

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