Saab confirmed during the LAAD exhibition in Rio de Janeiro that the first F-39 Gripen fighter of the Brazilian Air Force will fly in August for the first time. The first aircraft is in final phase of assembly in Sweden, but deliveries of the plane should only occur after 2021 – before that, Brazil will receive a pre-series aircraft to perfome tests.
The order of 36 units was closed in 2014 for $ 5.4 billion after several delays. The so-called FX-2 program even had the French fighter Rafale declared winner by former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, but the Air Force had not approved the model.
In the purchase agreement, Saab agreed to assemble part of the aircraft in Brazil at the Embraer plant in Gavião Peixoto. In addition, the two-seat version is being developed in partnership with Brazilians. This model, called Gripen F, will have eight units manufactured in Brazil and are expected to be delivered in 2024.
The Brazilian Gripen E will have something new, the single-screen instrument panel developed by AEL Systems, the so-called Wade Area Display and also chosen by the Swedish Air Force.
The Brazilian Air Force finds itself without a modern interceptor since the compulsory retirement of the used Mirage 2000 bought from France in 2013, so even before the Saab deal was closed.
Without them, the FAB has used the versatile but outdated F-5 Tiger II to the air defense mission. The largest country in South America, Brazil sees its neighbors better equipped when it comes to fighter jets. Peru owns the MiG-29, Chile has operated the F-16 for years while Venezuela received the powerful Russian Su-30 fighter. With the F-39, the scenario must again balance.