First Export Gripen Takes to the Air Marking Important Milestone

Released on Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Czech Republic
JAS 39C Gripen
MoU - Memorandum of Understanding
NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Saab has announced that the first Gripen fighter aircraft ordered by an export customer took off, for the first time, on Monday, October 18, 2004. The aircraft, a single-seat JAS 39C, was marked with Czech Republic colors.

This maiden flight marks an important milestone for Gripen on the export market. The Czech Air Force will take first deliveries in April 2005 and thereafter will become the first NATO Air Force to operate the Swedish-built JAS 39 Gripen fighter aircraft. The maiden flight lasted one hour an 25 minutes flown by Mats Thorbiornson, one of Saab's test pilots. Following this important milestone the aircraft will conduct further air and ground testing to guarantee that meets all Czech Republic specifications.

The government of Sweden and the Czech Republic agreed to lease 14 single-seat JAS 39C Gripen aircraft to equip the Czech Air Force in December 2003 followed by the official MoU ceremony in June 2004. The agreement includes training. From August this year Czech personnel and pilots have been training on the Gripen platform at the Swedish Air Force Base F7 in Satenas, western central Sweden. About 40 Czech engineers are being trained at the Armed Forces Halmstad Schools on the south-west coast.


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