The First Brazilian GRIPEN E (designated the F-39 GRIPEN by the Brazilian Air Force) took its first flight in Brazil on 24 September, flying from Navegantes to the Embraer facility at Gavião Peixoto.
Official handover of the aircraft is scheduled to take place during the Brazilian Air Force Day ceremony in Brasilia on 23 October. “GRIPEN’s arrival in Brazil and its first flight are major milestones in the Brazilian GRIPEN programme,” commented Micael Johansson, President and CEO of Saab. “We are following the delivery schedule for the aircraft and we continue to maintain our long-term commitment to Brazil.”
Jackson Schneider, President and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security, highlighted the scope of the partnership. “Embraer will play a leading role in the execution of the GRIPEN programme in Brazil and will be responsible for systems development, integration, flight testing, final assembly, and delivery of the aircraft in support of Brazilian Air Force operations. In terms of technology transfer, the GRIPEN is a great opportunity to increase our knowledge in the development and manufacturing of advanced combat aircraft,” he stated.
Brazilian Minister of Defence, Fernando Azevedo e Silva also highlighted the importance of sharing experiences arising from cooperation between Brazil and Sweden, observing that “GRIPEN increases the operational capacity of the Brazilian Air Force and promotes a partnership that fosters research and industrial development in both countries.”
For Air Force Commander, Lt Brig Antonio Carlos Moretti Bermudez, the arrival of the first F-39 GRIPEN aircraft is a major milestone for the project. “It is an immense satisfaction for the Brazilian Air Force to see this aircraft flying on national territory. The F-39 GRIPEN, the new Brazilian Air Force multi-mission aircraft, will be the backbone of Fighter Aviation and it reaffirms the FAB's commitment to maintaining the country's sovereignty and to defend the twenty-two million square kilometres under its responsibility.”
The flight test programme will be expanded to include the GRIPEN Flight Test Centre at Embraer in Gavião Peixoto, which will be fully integrated with the test programme, which has been running at full speed at Saab in Linköping since 2017. Activities in Brazil will include testing of the flight control and environmental control systems, as well as testing the aircraft in a tropical climate. In addition to the testing common for the GRIPEN E programme, unique features of the Brazilian aircraft, such as weapons integration as well as the Link BR2 communication system – which provides encrypted data and voice communications – will also be tested in Brazil.
Production aircraft will be delivered to the Brazilian Air Force, at Wing 2 in Anápolis (Goiás State), with effect from the end of 2021. Since the programme for development and production of 36 GRIPEN E/F began in 2014, a comprehensive technology transfer programme – forecast to run over a full ten years – has been underway and is driving the continuing development of the Brazilian aeronautics industry. Developed and produced in collaboration with Brazilian technicians and engineers, full assembly of 15 aircraft will begin locally in 2021. Further development of the two-seat GRIPEN F continues at the GRIPEN Design and Development Centre (GDDN) in Gavião Peixoto.