Brazil Confirms Gripen Fighter Contract

 - October 27, 2014, 10:43 AM
An artists’ impression of the Gripen NG in Brazilian air force markings. (Photo: Saab)

Brazil has signed contracts with Saab for the supply of 36 Gripen NG (New Generation) fighters, and for industrial cooperation, following its choice of the Swedish fighter last December. The deals are worth just over $5.4 billion, which is nearly $1 billion more than announced last December. Eight of the aircraft will be two-seaters. Deliveries will be made over a six-year period starting in 2019.

“This is by far the biggest export order in Saab’s history,” said Lennart Sindahl, head of the company’s aeronautics business. He said the deal would expand opportunities to export Gripens elsewhere. However, he told journalists that he “had no information” about a possible sale of 24 aircraft to Argentina via Brazil that was unofficially previewed by Brazilian officials on the margins of the recent rollout ceremony for the Embraer KC-390 airlifter.

The industrial contract includes “substantial technology transfer,” according to Saab. Embraer will be the strategic partner, as previewed by an MoU signed last July, and will have co-development responsibility for the two-seater. Sweden has ordered 60 Gripen NGs but has no requirement for the two-seat version. Embraer will do final assembly of 15 of the Brazilian Gripens, including all the two-seaters, and will also contribute parts and engineers to the Swedish assembly line. Sindahl revealed that an earlier plan to recycle some structure from Sweden’s Gripen C fleet into the new version had been dropped, since it was more economic to new-build. “But we will reuse the flight control system and some of the subsystems,” he said.

According to Saab, the Gripen NG provides more thrust, extended range and endurance, expanded weapons capability and new sensors. Selex is prime supplier of the Gripen sensor suite NG, including the AESA radar and IRST, and part of the EW system. But the Brazilian aircraft could differ from Sweden’s new Gripens in communications, EW and radar modes, Sindahl noted.

Negotiations for a Brazilian lease of some Swedish Gripen C/Ds ahead of the NG deliveries continue between the two governments.