On May 9, Brazilian Aerospace and Defence conglomerate Embraer and Sweden’s Saab have inaugurated the manufacturing line of the Gripen E in Brazil. This is a local plant for the Embraer factory located in Gavião Peixoto (São Paulo State).
This new facility marks an important milestone for both Brazilian and Swedish aerospace industries. This includes a major technological transfer program, knowledge exchange, and bilateral co-operations on both sides.
It is in fact so important, that Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the Minister of Defense, José Mucio Monteiro Filho, and the Brazilian Air Force Commander, Lieutenant-Brigadier Marcelo Kanitz Damasceno, and other high-ranking Brazilian officers (also civilians) were present at the inauguration ceremony.
The Gavião Peixoto plant
The opening of the final assembly line will make it on of the first outside of Sweden with the capabilities to assemble the Gripen E aircraft.
This gives the Swedish-designed and developed fighter jet greater global recognition, and contributes massively to the Aerospace capabilities in Brazil.
The plant, owned by Embraer is located in Gavião Peixoto and is now home to the Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN), the Gripen Flight Test Center (GFTC).
It provides the assembly line, development, production, and testing functionality for the capable fighter jet.
Gripen for Brazil by Brazilians
Initially, the Brazilian Air Force inked a contract with the Swedish firm to supply 36 fighters – Gripen E (single seater) and eight Gripen F (twin-seater) in 2014.
Embraer and Saab have been working in tandem since then, to execute the largest ongoing technology transfer project in the country. With the Memorandum of Understanding enforced, the two companies are working hand-in-hand with full steam.
Bosco da Costa Junior, President and CEO, Embraer Defense & Security stated: “Today we celebrate not only the inauguration of the Gripen fighter production line but the success of the collaboration between Saab and Embraer.”
“This grows stronger every day with the common goal of serving our client, the Brazilian Air Force. Since the beginning, Embraer has played a relevant role in the Gripen program, participating, for instance, in the development of the Brazilian version of the twin-seater aircraft.”
“As a natural evolution of this relationship, we hope that soon we can together expand our business into new markets.”
Micael Johansson, President and CEO of Saab stated: “The start of operations of the Gripen production line marks our commitment to transfer technology and knowledge to Brazilian industry. Here, we will produce 15 of the 36 aircraft currently contracted to the Brazilian Air Force.”
“The aim is also to produce here any future Gripen orders from Brazil as well as other countries. We want Brazil to become an export hub to Latin America and potentially other regions.”
Brazilian Air Force Commander, Lieutenant-Brigadier Marcelo Kanitz Damasceno described with optimism just how the Gripen jet will benefit Brazil:
“The start of production of the F-39 Gripen aircraft in Brazil symbolizes the achievement of an ambitious project that translates itself into technology transfer, job creation, and the consequent development of Brazil’s aerospace sector,” he said.
Embraer: A helping hand
Embraer is a major company in Brazil, which will aid the production of Saab aircraft in Brazil. The manufacturing line at Embraer will receive the aerostructures produced by Saab in Linköping (Sweden) and São Bernardo do Campo (São Paulo State, Brazil).
The assembly line has the capabilities of cable installation, joining equipment of various systems, landing gear, avionics, tactical equipment, canopy, ejection seat, and engine.
Once the fighter jet is completed, it will conduct functional test flights for final delivery. It is expected that the Embraer plant will produce 15 Gripen E fighters, which will be delivered in 2025.
Gripen, often overshadowed by many fighter jets, like the F-35 and the French Made Rafale, has made a significant milestone in the developing world like Brazil, Thailand, and South Africa, with its relatively low operating costs.
The Brazilian contract for Saab means everything to them, as this is one of their major exports for many years.