Sweden's answer to the F-35 has taken its maiden flight, maker Saab has revealed.
During the 40-minute flight over the eastern parts of Östergötland, the latest Gripen executed a series of maneuvers to test its systems, including extending and retracting its landing gear.
The Gripen E 'Smart Fighter' is aimed at markets not yet cleared to buy the troubled Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The aircraft, which is already proving in demand, has been in development for about 10 years. The first test flight is expected later this year.
Brazil has ordered 36 Gripen fighters for delivery between 2019 and 2024.
The revamped Gripen E is also one of five aircraft which has attracted Finland's interest as it weighs an order for dozens of jets, according to industry executives.
Boeing's F-18, Dassault Aviation's Rafale, Lockheed Martin's F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon, involving BAE Systems, may also be considered.
''The flight was just as expected, with the aircraft performance matching the experience in our simulations,' pilot Marcus Wandt said after the flight
Saab said it is also monitoring possible fighter purchases in India, which some say could seek almost 100 warplanes once it completes a delayed order for 36 French Rafales.
'I think we have a very good opportunity in India. We can make an attractive offer that would suit the Indians with their Make in India concept,' Saab aeronautics head Ulf Nilsson said in an interview.
Earlier versions of the plane are in service in the air forces of Sweden, South Africa, Czech Republic, Hungary and Thailand.
F-35 FIGHTER JET NOW HAS 'BRAIN' PROBLEM
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been hailed as the 'most expensive
weapon in history' dailymail
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been hailed as the 'most expensive weapon in history.'
But despite a price tag of $400 billion for 2,457 planes, the fifth-generation fighter has been plagued with issues.
Now, a new report says problems with its logistics software system could ground the entire fleet.
The issue is with what the Department of Defense officials call the 'brains' of plane, also known as the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS).
A Government Accountability Office report says a failure 'could take the entire fleet offline' because there is no backup system.
The report also says a lack of testing done of the software will mean it's not ready for its deployment by the Air Force in August and the Navy in 2018.
The 'brains' of the F35 are one of three major components, with the other two being the engine and airframe.
CNN points out that the software runs on ground computers rather than operating on the plane itself.
It is designed to support operations, mission planning and to spot any maintenance issues with the vehicle.
'Program officials said that if ALIS is not fully functional, the F-35 could not be operated as frequently as intended,' the report said.
'But a DoD commissioned plan found that schedule slippage and functionality problems with ALIS could lead to $20-100 billion in additional costs.'
So far, the software has been so flawed that maintenance crews have had to resort labour-intensive alternatives. dailymail