Gripens-Ds Depart Sweden For India Trials

Two Swedish Air Force JAS-39 Gripen-Ds departed Sweden on Sunday and are on their way to India as we speak for the final round of the field evaluation trials (FET) under the Indian medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) competition. The Gripens begin their trials at the Aircraft Systems & Testing Establishment (ASTE) in Bangalore early this week. The Gripen-Ds are being flown by Saab test pilots and Swedish air force pilots.

"IAF test pilots have already undergone intensive training on the aircraft and the aircraft have already undergone the first stage of trials in Linkoping in November 2009, which included flight performance, logistics capability, weapons systems, advanced sensors and weapons firing," said Gripen India campaign head Eddy de la Motte in response to an e-mail I sent in to Saab.

Asked about whether the Gripen Demo aircraft -- on which the Gripen IN is based (see here) -- would figure in the trials at all, de la Motte said, "The Demo is a development vehicle which the IAF will have complete access to within the current parameters of development. Gripen NG capabilities have been demonstrated during the evaluation trials in November 2009 when the Indian evaluation team was in Sweden."

The absence of the NG tech demonstrator could be a substantial problem in the campaign, though there is talk that Saab may be cut some discretionary slack on a practical basis -- the rationale doing the rounds apparently is that the availability of the NG for flight trials within India does not come in the way of the IAF's perception of it being an excellent airplane, and is not nearly enough to bump Saab just yet from the sweepstakes. Would be a shame if the Gripen lost out because of non-availability of the Demo airplane.

I took a test flight in a Gripen-D in October 2009 at Linkoping, Sweden. Click here to read about my flight.

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