The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) on Monday inducted the first four operational Saab F-39 Gripen E fighters into the 1st Air Defense Group (1st GDA), the Jaguar Squadron.
The ceremony that marked the beginning of operations with the new fighter jet in Brazil was held at the Anápolis Air Force Base, which is close to the country’s capital, Brasília.
The entry into service of the aircraft takes place after the Gripen flight test phase in Brazil. The tests were carried out at the Gripen Flight Test Center, at the Embraer factory, in Gavião Peixoto.
The phase had been ongoing since September 2020, when the FAB 4100 registration fighter arrived in the country, coming from Sweden.
“The start of operational activities with Gripen E by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) is an extremely important day. It marks the beginning of a new operational era for FAB but also is the result of years of hard work done in partnership with the Air Force and with our Brazilian industry partners: Embraer, AEL Sistemas, Akaer, Atech, and our own subsidiaries in Brazil,” said Saab’s President and CEO Micael Johansson.
The delivery of the fighters to the active sector also marks the end of the FAB’s long wait for a new air superiority aircraft. The choice of Gripen was defined by the FX-2 project, started in 2006 and which had competition from the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Dassault Rafale. Saab’s proposal, however, was the only one that proposed a broad technology transfer program to Brazil, which will also be a producer of the supersonic jet.
The acquisition contract for the new fighter was signed between Brazil and Saab in 2014. At the time, the purchase of 36 aircraft was announced, including part of them manufactured in Brazil. This year, the FAB placed an additional order for four more Gripens.
“Brazil now has one of the most advanced fighters in the world. This is currently the most extensive ongoing technology transfer program in Brazil and it is definitely the largest one ever done by any Swedish company, bringing to the Brazilian defense industry the knowledge to develop, produce, test and maintain an advanced supersonic fighter. We are very proud to be a strategic partner to Brazil,” concluded Johansson.
The Gripens will mainly replace the old Northrop F-5 Tiger II fighters, which have been in service with the FAB since 1975 and took over air defense after the retirement of 12 second-hand Dassault Mirage 2000s.