The first Saab F-39E Gripen arrived on a ship in the port of Navegantes, Brazil, on 20 September.

The Brazilian variant of the Gripen E/F will be used for a flight-testing campaign, Saab said on 23 September.

“It will be used for the verification of Brazilian specific functionality, such as communication system and weapon integration,” says the company. “The aircraft will also be used as a common test asset for the whole Gripen E/F test programme.”

The Gripen E/F test programme started in 2017 in Linkoping, Sweden, and is ongoing. The “F” variant of the Gripen is a two-seat aircraft.

“Activities in Brazil will include testing of flight control system, environmental control system as well as tests in the aircraft in tropical climate conditions,” says Saab. “In addition to the testing that is 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 communication between the aircraft – will be tested in Brazil.”

In 2014, Brasilia ordered 36 Gripen E/F fighters, called the F-39E/F by the Brazilian air force. The deal includes in-country production of 15 examples of the aircraft, as well as a technology transfer agreement that will see more than 350 Brazilian engineers and technicians trained on the fighter.

“So far more than 230 engineers have been trained in Sweden and are already back in Brazil, most of them working at the Gripen Design and Development Network at Embraer’s plant in Gaviao Peixoto,” says Saab. “The Brazilian and Swedish engineers there are involved in development work for the Gripen E/F, in areas such as vehicle systems, aeronautical engineering, airframe design and systems installation, system integration, avionics, human-machine interaction and communications.”

The first F-39E, which just arrived in Brazil, was built in Sweden and has been undergoing flight tests there.

Saab says the F-39E programme is moving forward as scheduled. The first aircraft is set to enter service with Brazilian air force in 2021.