The Brazilian Gripen
The Brazilian Gripen Programme began in 2013 when Saab successfully bid for the F-X2 Programme to replace the jet fighter fleet operated by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). In October 2014 a contract was signed with the Brazilian government for the development and production of 36 aircraft. In 2024 the last jet fighter will be delivered to FAB, but the partnership between Saab and Brazil is expected to go on for a long time through a wide-ranging technology transfer that will enable Brazil to develop, produce and maintain supersonic jet fighters.
Saab was announced as the successful bidder by the Brazilian government in December 2013, after a tender process involving a US and a French company. FAB studies concluded that Gripen would guarantee long-term planning through the technology transfer and the possibility to build the aircraft in Brazil, as it was an aircraft in development.
The fact that Gripen is a prototype means Brazil can be involved in the development of the project, which will give the Brazilian industry and FAB unprecedented access to all levels of technology.
In addition to meeting the military requirements established by FAB, Gripen had the lowest lifecycle operating costs. "Gripen was sold with the commitment to transfer technology necessary for the development of the Brazilian aerospace industry. The fact that Gripen is a prototype means Brazil can be involved in the development of the project, which will give the Brazilian industry and FAB unprecedented access to all levels of technology," explains Lieutenant General Juniti Saito, former Brazilian Air Force Commander.
That was the beginning of the partnership in the development of technology, both in Brazil and in Sweden. Saab and the Brazilian government signed the offset deal, which includes the transfer of technology to Brazilian companies and the commitment to develop and produce 36 new Gripen fighters between 2019 and 2024, on October 27, 2014. The technology transfer and joint development of Gripen E and F (single-seat and twin-seat) began, as required by FAB.
In October 2015 about 50 Brazilian engineers and technicians joined the first team sent to Sweden to learn about their roles in the programme. They were the first of over 350 Brazilians who will participate in the technology transfer programme by the end of jet fighter production.
This technology transfer is now contributing to positive and advanced changes in the industrial base for Brazilian defence. "The acquisition of Gripen has had benefits beyond an increase in FAB's operational capacity. In addition to equipping FAB with one of the most modern fighter aircraft in the world, participation in the development of the project will result in an unprecedented technological leap for Brazilian industry," says Lieutenant General Nivaldo Luiz Rossato, the commander of the Brazilian Air Force.
The Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN) came into being in 2016. It was opened at the Embraer plant in Gavião Peixoto, São Paulo state, as Gripen's technological development hub in the country. In late 2017, 110 development engineers were working at GDDN - approximately 90 of them Brazilian and the rest Swedish.
The next step was the setting up of an aerostructure plant in São Bernardo do Campo, in Greater São Paulo. This factory was another important stage in the evolution of FAB's fighter programme and the installation were set up in 2018 and the production began in June 2020. The factory will produce large structural segments for Gripen, such as the tail cone, aerodynamic brakes, wingboxes, front part of the fuselage (both single-seat and twin-seat versions) and the rear fuselage, which will then be assembled in the Embraer plant in Gavião Peixoto. "The investment in the new plant is another step in the long-term partnership between Saab and Brazil," says Mikael Franzén, head of the Gripen Brasil business unit at Saab.
The investment in the new plant is another step in the long-term partnership between Saab and Brazil.