The Gripen E continues to expand its weapons repertoire with a first test flight carrying the Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM). Saab announced today that the first captive-carry test took place in October.
The flight involved initial prototype Gripen E aircraft (39-8) that carried two Meteor missiles during a mission from Saab’s airfield at Linköping, Sweden.
Robin Nordlander, Gripen experimental test pilot, Saab, said: “The aircraft continues to perform as smoothly as we have seen throughout the whole flight test phase flying with external stores. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming steps in the flight test programme, taking us closer and closer to completing weapon integration. Meteor makes Gripen E extremely capable in the air dominance role.”
This test with Meteor is a part of the weapon integration progress in the Gripen E test programme under an agreement with the Swedish customer. The next step is to continue to fly with different configurations and gradually expand the flight envelope.
The Meteor BVRAAM first became operational with the Swedish Air Force Gripen C/D in 2016.
Stores release trials
Also in October, the Gripen E successfully completed initial tests to verify its ability to release and launch external payloads. The trials took place at the Vidsel Test Range in northern Sweden.
During the tests, Gripen E 39-8 jettisoned one external fuel drop tank and fired one IRIS-T air-to-air missile.
Marcus Wandt, experimental Gripen test pilot at Saab, explained: “As a pilot, flying with external stores such as drop tank and missiles is important to allow for evaluation of how the aircraft behaves with the stores attached. This test was also used to evaluate the effect on the aircraft when releasing and launching the stores. The highlight was of course to pull the trigger and watch the missile fire away. It also brings us closer to making the aircraft ready for its operational use.”
Jonas Hjelm, senior vice president and head of Saab business area Aeronautics added: “I am pleased to see the aircraft behaving and performing according to our expectations, which is proof of its smart design and world-class engineering by Saab. The programme is on track, and we are making good progress in the programme towards delivery to our Swedish and Brazilian customers.”
These tests were preceded by the carriage trials in July.