Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Saab has delivered the first Brazilian Gripen E aircraft to start the initial flight test program in Sweden.
The delivery was marked by a ceremony in Sweden on Tuesday. The ceremony was attended by Brazilian military officials, the Brazilian ambassador to Sweden, and Saab business representatives.
The test flights will be performed in Sweden until the end of 2020, when the aircraft will move to Brazil to continue testing, a Saab statement said. Deliveries to the Brazilian Air Force will also begin in 2021.
The company announced two years ago it was developing the Gripen fighters as its first aircraft for Brazil's Air Force.
The Gripen fighter is a multi-role aircraft that can be armed with air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons, and can also support intelligence gathering operations.
"Together with the Brazilian industry, I am proud to be a part of building a long-term strategic partnership with Brazil and the Brazilian air force," Saab President and CEO Hakan Bushke said. "With Gripen Brazil will have one of the most advanced fighters in the world and the technology transfer program will allow Brazil to develop, produce and maintain supersonic fighters."
The partnership with Brazil started in 2014 with a $4.6 billion contract for development and production of 36 Gripen E/F for the Brazilian air force, including related systems, support and equipment. The contract went into effect the next year.
Saab is driving development with national partners that includes transfer of a technology program to Brazil, which will be delivered in approximately 10 years.
"Gripen increases the operational capacity of the Brazilian Air Force and boosts a partnership that ensures transfer of technology to Brazil, fosters research and industrial development in both countries," Brazilian Minister of Defense Fernando Azevedo e Silva said.