New ways of working brings many benefits to the Gripen E programme
During the development and manufacturing of Gripen E, world leading production technologies and techniques are used to save time and cost, such as Additive Manufacturing (AM), 5-axis high speed machining, a new method shaping metal and parts under water with explosives, and Model Based Definition (MBD).
No more blueprints
Thanks to MBD and new technologies in the production, the lead-time is reduced and development and manufacturing costs are cut by 50 percent. With MBD, a 3D model of a product contains all the necessary information such as dimensions, tolerances, manufacturing methods plus assembly information, materials and more. Instead of having a 3D model in the computer and a number of additional paper documents and drawings, Saab has all the information in one place – presented on a computer screen. This has a major impact throughout the development and manufacturing chain.
“Using MBD means that all the traditional blue prints are brought together into one single 3D model. The result is faster construction and a much higher quality of the final product. All the parts fit without any grinding or corrections. We can verify the solidity, function and availability before entering the production line. All traditional issues, challenges and problems can be evaluated at an early stage, and unexpected potential problems avoided,” says Matti Olsson.
Extensive transfer of technology
In Brazil, development, flight test and production of Gripen E are taking place as a part of the extensive transfer of technology package to the country. So far, more than 260 engineers and technicians, of a total of more than 350 Brazilian professionals, have been trained in Sweden.
The Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN), located at Embraer, in Gavião Peixoto, is the hub for technology transfer and development of Gripen fighters in Brazil since 2016. At the site, Brazilians and Swedes are working in areas such as vehicle systems, aeronautical engineering, airframe design, systems installation, system integration, avionics, human-machine interface and communications.
The first Gripen fighter arrived in Brazil in September 2020 and, since then, is undergoing test flights at the Gripen Flight Test Centre (GFTC), which is part of the GDDN. The GFTC is fully integrated into the test programme running at Saab in Linköping since 2017. It collects, in real time, the telemetry information of the flights, in encrypted form, which are later analysed by the pilots, technicians and engineers involved in the test flight campaign, carried out by Brazil and Sweden.
Saab is already producing four aerostructures segments at the plant in São Bernardo do Campo. In parallel, investments in the infrastructure and preparation of the production line at Embraer in Gavião Peixoto is progressing. Production technicians from Embraer are now in Sweden doing their on-the-job training. They have worked directly on the production of the first four serial aircraft to the Brazilian Air Force.
Brazil is not the only customer that gets this excellent opportunity. Saab offers all Gripen customers substantial Transfer of Technology programmes, which brings mutual benefits for all. Finland takes a decision by the end of the year regarding new fighters. To meet their requirements Saab, besides Gripen and GlobalEye, offers an extensive partnership.
“In order to build Security of Supply, maintenance, repair and overhaul capabilities in Finland, we are proposing local production and assembly of Gripen aircraft in country. Saab sees this as beneficial to the overall strategy for global production, and would naturally also envisage Finland being integrated seamlessly into Saab’s global assembly, production and MRO capability,” says Magnus Skogberg, Campaign Director Gripen for Finland.
“Finland is also offered an establishment of a local Gripen and GlobalEye system center that will form a hub for in-country sustainment and further development capabilities,” Magnus Skogberg continues.