A technology transfer package includes having Brazilian firms build 80 percent of the airframe of the Gripen E fighters the country will buy. (Stefan Kalm / Saab)
Farnborough International Airshow
FARNBOROUGH, ENGLAND — Brazilian firms will build 80 percent of the airframe of the Gripen E fighters due to be purchased by Brazil, the head of Saab said on Monday.
The deal is part of a “really strong technology transfer package,” said Hakan Buskhe at the Farnborough International Airshow, The plan, he said, will also see Brazilian firm Embraer handle “most of the development” on a two seater Gripen F for the Brazilian airforce.
Brazil selected the Gripen seven months ago and Saab officials say a contract signing is likely by the end of this year. The South American nation may buy 36 fighters. Last week Saab signed a deal with Embraer to make the Brazilian firm the coordinator of development and production activities in Brazil.
An assembly plant for the aircraft should begin construction at San Bernardo near Sao Paulo in Brazil this fall, said Lennart Sindahl, Saab’s deputy CEO. Local firms including Embraer will be involved at the site, while Embraer will take responsibility for final assembly on the aircraft, he said.
Buskhe said Saab intended to jointly market the Gripen E and F types globally. “Brazil also wants the capability to build fighters in the long term,” said Sindahl. “Are we creating a competitor? No, a potential partner,” he added.
Sindahl said a next logical step in talks with Brazil would be for a carrier version of the Gripen. “After Embraer finish work on their KC390 and we finish work on the Gripen E, we could talk,” he said. “They have expressed an interest.”
As it seeks to hand over workshare on the Gripen to Brazil, Saab may also seek to shift preplanned workshare with Swiss firms, now that a Swiss referendum has blocked the nation’s purchase of Gripen aircraft.
But Buskhe said that “many” of the contracts planned with Swiss firms would stay in Switzerland, “based on merit”, while Brazilian contracts would generally be of a different nature – related to “large technology transfer, final assembly and weapons integration.”
Moreover, Saab is working on the assumption that the Swiss may return to buying Gripens.
“The referendum was about financing, it does not mean Switzerland does not need fighters,” said Sindahl.
“We respect the referendum…. Let’s see, we wait,” said Buskhe.