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Saab Global

Gripen undergoes tropical testing in northern Brazil

3 min read

The recent climate tests conducted in Belém and Salinópolis exposed the Gripen to hot and humid conditions, with temperatures reaching approximately 35ºC and humidity of 85% at sea level. 

For approximately 20 days, the Gripen E aircraft 4100, used in Brazil's development and certification campaigns, was once again subjected to extreme weather conditions. During this campaign, the aircraft flew approximately 12 hours across 10 missions in hot and humid conditions, typical in Brazil's Northern region. 

“Gripen was stationed at Belém Air Force Base, benefiting from ground support and the presence of the Saab and Embraer teams. Upon take-off, the aircraft headed towards a test area over the sea near Salinópolis, about 160km from Belém. We set up a telemetry station in this location to gather extensive test data," explained Dalton Leite, Embraer’s engineer responsible for the campaign.

The tests were conducted to assess the performance of all systems under extremely hot and humid conditions, ensuring adequate cooling of the systems, pilot comfort, and overall aircraft behaviour in such environment. 

"Despite the challenging and rapidly changing weather conditions throughout the day, the results obtained demonstrate that the Gripen can operate without climatic restrictions from any location in the northern region," said Martin Leijonhufvud, head of Saab's Gripen Flight Test Centre.


During the flight test campaign, responsibilities were assigned to Embraer as part of the transfer of technology programme, aimed at enhancing the Brazilian company's expertise in this area.

"The tests involved the work of approximately 35 people, divided between Brazilians and Swedes, and were fundamental to further strengthening the partnership between Saab and Embraer. They also prepared our technicians and engineers to carry out this type of work without Saab's mentorship,” added Leite.

Transonic flight and radar altimeter


The campaign also included transonic* regime flight tests and an evaluation of the radar altimeter functionality.

"The transonic flights were conducted to assess the performance of the fighter and engine at lower altitudes, allowing the team to measure the increased heat and structural stresses on the aircraft," explained Jakob Högberg, Saab's chief test pilot. 

Meanwhile, the radar altimeter test has a direct impact on several aircraft systems, including the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS), which is a precision anti-collision equipment for low-altitude flights. 
The fighter explored altitude ranges from 200 meters to 500 meters in the dense and humid forest to enable the team to validate the accuracy of the radar altimeter measurements in that environment.

All tests conducted were successfully completed, consolidating another step in the global development and certification campaign of Gripen E. These tests included the carriage of a range of external store configurations, such as IRIS-T and Meteor missiles, as well as drop tanks.

* Transonic is the transition range from subsonic to supersonic speed, approximately Mach 0.8 to Mach 1.2, or 980 km/h to 1,470 km/h at sea level.