First Brazilian Air Force pilots start transition to Gripen

Brazilian pilots start transition Gripen
Brazilian Air Force F-39E Gripen.

On January 19, 2021, four pilots from the Brazilian Air Force (BAF) 1st Air Defense Group (1º GDA - Jaguar Squadron) began operational training in the Gripen C/D fighter at the Swedish Air Force F7 Wing, Sweden. In total, ten BAF pilots will conduct operational training during 2021.

Future F-39E Gripen pilots will carry out operational conversion and gain combat readiness in the Swedish Air Force JAS-39 C/D fighter. After training, they will return to 1° GDA, located in Wing 2 at Anápolis, Brazil, to work on the operational implementation of the F-39 Gripen, which is expected to be received in October this year.

The Commander of the 1° GDA, pilot Lieutenant Colonel Leandro Vinicius Coelho, underlined that the beginning of the operational training of the first F-39 Gripen pilots marks an important and decisive step in the process to introduce the aircraft to the BAF.

"These fighter pilots have been previously selected and prepared for this moment. They are ready to start the course and, certainly, they will best represent our country and the Brazilian Air Force in this noble mission," he said.

Brazilian pilots start transition Gripen

Future F-39E Gripen pilot and member of the first training class, pilot Major Vítor Cabral Bombonato, said that “The start of the course represents another important step in the implementation process. The aircraft is getting closer and closer to becoming operational. For us, this moment is a source of great pride, "he said.

Wing 2 Commander, Colonel Gustavo Pestana Garcez, said that "This moment is of fundamental importance not only for our four aviators, but for an entire team that has worked and still works on the training of our personnel and on the implementation of infrastructure needed to receive the new F-39E Gripen aircraft."

How the Brazilian Air Force could optimize Gripen pilots training

Currently the flight school of the Brazilian Air Force does not have advanced trainer aircraft. After the first flight phase in the T-25 Universal basic trainer, students join the First Aerial Instruction Squadron (Primeiro Esquadrão de Instrução Aérea) where they fly the Brazilian-made turboprop Embraer EMB-312 Tucano, better known in BAF as T-27 Tucano. Young Brazilian fighter pilots carry out the most advanced phase of training directly in front-line combat aircraft such as the new Gripen. This training process differs from the concept adopted by modern air forces that seek to reduce the performance gap between trainers and modern fighters.

The difference between the T-27 and the Gripen is considerable, this leads the students to have to conduct a high number of flight hours in the Gripen with consequent high costs for the armed force. The introduction of an advanced trainer aircraft, such as the Leonardo M-346, would allow the BAF to shift much of the work currently done by front-line fighters to the latter. The operating costs of the M-346 are considerably lower than those of the Gripen. This means that young pilots who are assigned to the F-39E will need much less time to complete the conversion and achieve combat readiness. 

This would be the right time for BAF to introduce a LIFT jet as it will have to train a good number of Gripen pilots in the coming years.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source, Images: Brazilian Air Force

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