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.
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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