Saab has flown the first series-production Gripen E aircraft for Sweden, the company announced on 3 December.
An image of aircraft 6002 flying in a new splinter tri-tone grey camouflage pattern reminiscent of the Swedish Air Force's (SwAF's) green and brown scheme from the Cold War was released by the company.
While 6002 was shown with SwAF roundels, a Saab representative was unable to say if it is the first aircraft that will be delivered to the service. This particular airframe might go to the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) for testing, and might remain with the organisation rather than being subsequently handed over to the SwAF. Saab also has three flying Gripen E prototypes in aircraft 39-8, 39-9 and 39-10, and it is unclear if some or all of these will remain Saab assets or if they will be refurbished and delivered to the SwAF/FMV ahead of 6002.
Sweden is due to receive the first of 60 Gripen Es before the end of the year, with deliveries running through to 2026. The only international customer to date, Brazil, has ordered an initial batch of 28 Gripen Es and eight twin-seat Gripen Fs to be delivered between 2021 and 2024. Both countries have left open the option for further procurements.
In terms of the wider production programme, manufacture of the first serial-standard aircraft began at Linköping in January. While similar concurrent testing and production has caused problems for other programmes, Eddy De La Motte, vice-president and head of Gripen E/F, said in June that he was not concerned that the Gripen E/F effort would encounter the same issues. "We have de-risked that element of the programme," he said. The line at Linköping is geared to turn out 24 aircraft per year.
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