First F-39 Gripen takes flight in Brazil

The Brazilian Air Force’s first Saab Gripen E multi-role fighter completed its maiden flight in Brazil on September 24 – just four days after it arrived in-country, having been shipped from Norrköping in Sweden.

The fighter flew from Navegantes International Airport in Santa Catarina to the Gripen Flight Test Center (GFTC) at Embraer’s facility in Gavião Peixoto, São Paulo. Locally designated as the F-39 Gripen, this aircraft has been used in a flight test campaign since it first flew in August 2019 and will undergo further testing at the GFTC. The aircraft will be officially presented to the country on October 23, during the national Aviator’s Day and Brazilian Air Force Day ceremony in Brasília.

F-39 Gripen [Brazilian Air Force]
In Brazilian service, the Gripen E will conduct a range of missions, including air policing, attack and reconnaissance operations. Brazilian Air Force/Sgt Bianca

Micael Johansson, president and CEO of Saab, said: “Gripen’s arrival in Brazil and its first flight are major milestones in the Brazilian Gripen programme. We are proud of this journey alongside so many qualified and committed professionals from both countries.

“We are following the delivery schedule for the aircraft and we continue to maintain our long-term commitment to Brazil,” he added.

In 2014, Brazil awarded a US$5.4bn contract to Saab for the production of 28 single-seat Gripen E and eight two-seat Gripen F multi-role fighters, completing a fleet of 36 aircraft. Of this, 13 examples will be produced at Saab’s Linköping facility in Sweden and the remaining 23 will be locally built in Brazil.

F-39 Gripen [Brazilian Air Force]
Brazil's first Gripen E - which is locally designated as the F-39E Gripen - takes to the skies over the South American nation for the first time on September 24, 2020. Brazilian Air Force/Sgt Bianca

Brazil’s Minister of Defence, Fernando Azevedo e Silva, added that the “Gripen increases the operational capacity of the Brazilian Air Force and promotes a partnership that fosters research and industrial development in both countries.”

AirForces Intelligence data states that the first 11 serial production Gripen Es are scheduled to be handed over to the Brazilian Air Force in October and November 2021. Production of the first Gripen F for Brazil began earlier this year, with the first expected to be delivered in 2023. Deliveries are expected to conclude in 2024.