The prototype Bulldog flew on 19 May 1969 at Shoreham Airport. The first order for the type was for 78 from the Swedish Air Board. Before any production aircraft were built, Beagle Aircraft ceased trading and the production rights for the aircraft, with the Swedish order, were taken over by Scottish Aviation (Bulldog) Limited. All subsequent aircraft were built at Prestwick Airport by Scottish Aviation, and later by British Aerospace.
The first 58 aircraft (known as the SK 61A and SK 61B) were delivered to the Swedish Air Force in 1971. Twenty more aircraft were delivered to the Swedish Army as FPL 61C in 1972, although these were transferred to the Air Force in 1989 as SK 61C. By 2001 all the Swedish aircraft had been withdrawn from military service. 26 were bought in 2004 by the Hungarian company AVIA-Rent.
The largest customer was the Royal Air Force, which placed an order for 130 Bulldogs in 1972, entering service as the Bulldog T.1 in 1975. It was used by the Royal Air Force as a basic trainer, in particular as the standard aircraft of the University Air Squadrons and, later, Air Experience Flights, providing flying training. The aircraft was also used by the Royal Navy for Elementary Flying Training (EFT) at RAF Topcliffe.
The RAF sold off its remaining Bulldog trainers in 2001 as general aviation light aircraft for a low price. They were replaced by the Grob Tutor.
g limits: +6g -3g, with no longer than 15 seconds sustained inverted flight.
Rate of climb: 1,034 ft/min (5.25 m/s)
Wing loading: 18.2 lb/sq ft (89 kg/m2)
All armament is optional. The Bulldog was designed so that it could be fitted with four hard points. These armaments were tested on company demonstrator aircraft G-ASAL. They were never used in RAF service although some weapons training was done on the Bulldog trainers in Sweden. Although hardpoints are available, there is no provision for production weapons launch control systems in the Bulldog.