Saab has presented the first Brazilian Gripen E fighter aircraft during a ceremony in Linköping, Sweden, to begin the flight test programme.

The ceremony was attended by representatives from Brazilian Air Force, Swedish Air Force, Saab, and defence ministers of the two countries.

The aircraft will remain in Sweden to undergo initial flight tests before moving to Brazil by the end of next year for further flight tests.

Saab received a contract worth more than $4bn in 2014 to produce and deliver 36 Gripen E/F fighter aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force. The company expects to commence Gripen E aircraft deliveries in 2021 and Gripen F from 2023.

The order includes 28 Gripen E and eight two-seated Gripen F aircraft.

Saab president and CEO Håkan Buskhe said: “Together with the Brazilian industry, I am proud to be part of building a long-term strategic partnership with Brazil and the Brazilian Air Force.

“With Gripen Brazil will have one of the most advanced fighters in the world and the technology transfer programme will allow Brazil to develop, produce and maintain supersonic fighters.”

The milestone comes after Saab completed the maiden flight of the first Brazilian Gripen E in Linköping last month.

The flight of the aircraft, with serial number 39-6001, lasted 65 minutes and tested basic handling and flying capabilities at varying heights and speeds.

Brazilian Defence Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva said: “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.”

Saab involved Brazilian technicians and engineers in the development and production of the Brazilian Gripen E/F aircraft as part of the transfer of technology initiative.

The objective of the technology transfer initiative is to drive the local aeronautics industry’s development. The entire assembly of the 15 aircraft will be carried out in the South American country from 2021.

Brazilian Air Force chief lieutenant brigadier Antonio Carlos Moretti Bermudez said: “The F-39 Gripen represents a significant technological leap in fighter aviation for the Brazilian Air Force.

“Thus, the Brazilian Air Force now has a new multi-mission platform for the fulfilment of its actions to control, defend and integrate the national territory.”

Other customers for the Gripen platform include Sweden, South Africa, Czech Republic, Hungary and Thailand.