Final assembly on the first prototype of Saab’s Gripen fighter is “well under way.” The fuselage sections for the Gripen E/NG fighter test aircraft 39-8 have already been assembled. There was much rejoicing when the pieces fit together immediately without any modifications. It shows that Saab is on schedule to roll out the aircraft in 2016. The deal with Brazil is worth $4.55 billion USD and was finalized on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. Under the contract, 36 Brazilian next-generation Gripen fighter aircraft will be delivered. Covered in the order are 28 single-seat Gripen NG aircraft and 8 two-seater aircraft. The first aircraft is scheduled to be delivered in 2019. The contract expires in 2024. Included in the contract is the complete turnkey weapon system, training, spare parts, support, planning and maintenance.
There are seven external hard points for carrying payloads on the Gripen. Each wing tip has one hard point. There are two under each wing and one on the fuselage centerline. Mounted on the wingtips are the Sidewinder missiles, a short-range missile for enhanced dogfighting capabilities. Swedish aircraft built after 2005 will be armed with short-range Diehl BGT Defence IRIS-T air-to-air missiles.
The Gripen cockpit is equipped with a Saab Avitronics EP-17 electronic display suite. There are three multifunction displays and a wide-angle diffraction head-up display. An integrated helmet mounted display (IHMD) system known as Cobra was developed by Saab Aerospace and BAE systems. The system was originally developed for South Africa but the Swedish Air Force placed an order on October 2007.
The Gripen multirole fighter aircraft was first flown in December of 1988 and it entered service in 1997 with the Swedish Air Force. The Gripen is expected to replace all current variants of the Viggen and Draken combat aircraft. Mach 1.2 was reached by a Gripen demo aircraft in January 2009 without the use of an afterburner. The next-generation Gripen debuted in July 2010. The Gripen NG has significantly increased combat range, endurance, and increase payload.
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