Brazil is planning to acquire approximately 108 Saab Gripen NGs over the next 18 years, according to Bg. Gen. Jose Crepaldi Affonso, head of programs office, Forca Aerea Brasileira (FAB – Brazilian air force). He told the International Fighter Conference in London, organized by Defence IQ, that his air force intends to eventually replace all three of its existing combat aircraft with the Swedish jet. Crepaldi also described, in some detail, the industrial participation (IP) programs that are linked to the Gripen deal.
The contract that was signed last month covered only the first batch of 36 aircraft, and Saab leadership made no mention of follow-on orders. But Crepaldi said that although the FAB’s F-5BR (F-5E) and A-1M (AMX) fleets are being modernized, a further two batches of Gripens would be delivered by 2032 to replace them. The Brazilian naval air arm is also considering the proposed navalized Sea Gripen as a replacement for its carrier-based A-4 Skyhawks.
Crepaldi said that Brazil aims to acquire independent technological capabilities and the ability to do full life-cycle support. The IP plan for the involvement of Brazilian industry in the Gripen project was defined in three stages: basic, operational and final. Eventually, the country’s aerospace industry should be capable of designing its own fighter, he said. Brazilian companies will bid for “up to 80 percent” of the aerostructures work for the entire future production of the Gripen, not just those being built for Brazil. As previously reported, Brazil would help develop the two-seat Gripen NG, but it would also participate in avionics development, notably by providing a wide area display.
Crepaldi also told The Fighter Conference that the A-Darter air-to-air missile that Brazil is co-developing with South Africa will make its final qualification firing next week, and be carried by the first Gripens when they are delivered to the FAB in 2019. The Gripens will also carry the MAR-1 anti-radiation missile that being developed by Odebrecht Defence and Technology, and due to be qualified in 2018.
Brazil is also seeking cooperation with South Africa on a beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile for the Gripen.