Gripen Nervous About Ferrying Demo Aircraft To India, But Confident Of Repeat Performance In MMRCA Trials

The Indian Air Force evaluation team that was in Europe for phase-3 flight evaluation trials (FETs) of the Eurofighter Typhoon and Gripen Demo was stranded on the continent by the Icelandic ash cloud. Not sure if they're back yet, but they had a fantastic time in Linkoping, Sweden, during the first week of this month when a member of the IAF team became the first non-Swedish pilot to fly the Gripen Demo from the front cockpit. The team had eight flights in the aicraft, and will fly it again next month. The Gripen Demo will touch down in Jamnagar on May 17, after which the IAF will decide the sequence of trials the airplane will be put through.

While the Gripen people are still basking in the rumours and feedback about how well their pair of Gripen-Ds performed during the India phase of the evaluations, the team is palpably nervous about ferrying the Gripen Demo to India. Met up with Gripen's MMRCA campaign head Eddy de la Motte a couple of days ago. He told me, "While we are very confident that the Demo will perform perfectly in what is demanded of it, we hope there are no problems in bringing it to India. We will be hopping it across from Sweden to India. We don't foresee any problems, but it is after all a prototype, and we can't be too careful." The IAF is likely to put the Gripen Demo through the full gamut of trials in Bangalore, Jaisalmer and Leh, though probably not in that order. In many ways, evaluating the Gripen Demo will be like testing an entirely different airplane, substantively different as it is from the original that flew in India last month.

The first down-select in the MMRCA is scheduled to take place by October this year.

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