Defence News: Gripen E took to the skies for the first time from Saab’s Linkoping production facility on June 15th. According to janes; “The flight lasted for 40 minutes, during which the pilot “carried out a number of actions to demonstrate various test criteria including the retracting and extending of the landing gear,” Saab said, adding that the aircraft performed as expected.”
Jane’s report further states: “With 39-8 being used mainly for airframe and general flight control tests, a second prototype (39-9) will be used as a tactical systems testbed, while the third and final single-seat prototype (39-10) will fly as a production-standard airframe. The twin-seat Gripen NG demonstrator (39-7) that provided much of the risk mitigation for the Gripen E will continue to serve as a general test platform throughout the flight trials effort. As previously highlighted by Saab, the Gripen E’s enhancements over the earlier C/D models can be categorized in terms of survivability, sensors, general systems, payload, communications, performance, range, avionics, and human-machine interface/sensor fusion.”
The Gripen jet is being considered by India in it’s foray for a single engine fighter competition involving F16 as the only other contender. The trials are to be brief and swift as India has already evaluated both the jets and at that time, the old configurations did not meet the IAF requirements. Now with new radars and other upgrades, both jets meet those requirements and it’s a matter of choosing one over the other due t0 various factors. Gripen E only improves Saab’s chances of winning the competition. F 16 is already seen more capable in it’s latest block configuration but lacks future upgrade-ability due to it being a fully exploited platform.
You can read more about the recent news related to F-16 and Saab Gripen in limited trials of F-16, Saab Gripen for IAF