The upgraded Gripen, which is basically a completely new aircraft, jas just made its first flight:
Swedish aerospace and defense company Saab has completed the first flight of its prototype E-model Gripen fighter jet.
The prototype, coded 39-8, took to the air at 10:32 a.m. local time June 15 from the company’s development facility at Linkoping, flying for 40 min. and reaching an altitude of 13,000 ft. before touching down safely.
Video and imagery of the aircraft departing and inflight showed a relatively short takeoff run in dry power and revealed that the company retracted the landing gear inflight, a relatively rare occurrence in first flights. Two twin-seat JAS-39D Gripens acted as chase aircraft.
The aircraft took 10 years to develop, which by the standard of modern fighter development is a very short time, and while pricier than its it is still far cheaper to operate than its competitors.
Total employment on the program is less than that of just the program office for the F-35, and total development cost for the program was less than that of the most recent software release for the JSF. (link)
There is no reasonable justification for the protracted and expensive developments that have become the standard in western fighter programs.
Here is a PR video from Saab: