WASHINGTON — Brazil has officially begun manufacturing fighter jets with the start of production at a new facility that makes sections of the Saab Gripen, Swedish aerospace company Saab announced Tuesday.

Saab Aeronáutica Montagens, a new manufacturing plant located near Sao Paulo, has begun producing Gripen E/F aerostructures, including the tail cone and front fuselage for the single-seat Gripen E version of the jet. It will eventually also make the brakes, rear fuselage, wing box and front fuselage for the two-seater “F” model, Saab stated.

Those structures will then undergo final assembly at Embraer’s nearby plant in Sao Paulo and Saab’s main Gripen production hub in Linköping, Sweden.

Saab won a contract with Brazil in 2014 for 36 Gripen E/F aircraft after a hard-fought competition that included Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon. Technology transfer was a major requirement for all proposals.

Saab’s new aerostructures plant in Brazil has employed more than 70 workers, half of which will receive training in Sweden. Some workers have already returned from that program and have used their training to launch production activities in Brazil, Saab stated.

“Based on theoretical and practical on-the-job training of Brazilian engineers and assemblers at Saab in Linköping, we were able to establish a highly qualified production line at SAM, following the same standards that we have in our factory in Sweden,” says Jonas Hjelm, head of Saab’s Aeronautics business area.

In 2018, Saab unveiled the Brazilian aerostructures facility, which will eventually accommodate up to 200 employees in 2024. The parts produced there will be used to manufacture Gripens that will be delivered to the Brazilian Air Force.

Saab delivered the first Gripen E to Brazil in September for testing.

Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.

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