Nov. 12 (UPI) -- A Gripen E air superiority fighter successfully completed a test launch of Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile for the first time.
The flight, announced Monday by Saab, was based out of the company's airfield at Linköping, Sweden, and included two Meteor missiles and a Gripen E aircraft.
"The aircraft continues to perform as smoothly as we have seen throughout the whole flight test phase flying with external stores," Robin Nordlander, Saab's Gripen experimental test pilot, said in a press release. "I'm really looking forward to the upcoming steps in the flight test program, taking us closer and closer to completing weapon integration. Meteor makes Gripen E extremely capable in the air dominance role."
The launch testing is part of the process to integrate the missile with the Gripen E, with the next phase of using different configurations and flight envelopes.
Meteor is an advanced active radar-guided Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air missile capable of engaging air targets autonomously in electronic warfare environments. The missile has ramjet engines, giving it a top speed over Mach 4 and a range of over 60 miles or more depending on the variant
The Swedish Air Force Gripen C/E fighter fleet became the first fighter aircraft to be operational with the Meteor missile in 2016.
The Meteor program is a collaboration between the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden for a joint missile to improve commonality between the allies. Saab is partnering with prime contractor MBDA UK to develop the missile.
The Gripen E is a multi-role fighter aircraft capable of air-to-air, air-to-surface, and reconnaissance missions. It has a maximum speed of Mach 2 and possesses supercruise capability, allowing it to exceed Mach 1 without using its afterburners and extending its range.
It is designed to network directly with other Gripen fighters to seamlessly share aircraft status, sensor data and weapons loadouts with the other planes and ground control stations.