LAAD 2019: Saab revealed details of JAS-39NG Gripen development

During the LAAD 2019 Defense and Security exhibition, that took place in Brazil from April 02 to April 05, Saab revealed details of the current development status of the multi-mission fighter aircraft JAS-39 Gripen, developed in partnership between Brazil and Sweden.

LAAD 2019 Saab revealed details of JAS 39NG Gripen development
The JAS-39NG Gripen fighter aircraft on display at SAAB's booth at LAAD 2019, Brazil (Picture Source: Army Recognition)

According to Mikael Franzén, head of Saab Brazil’s business unit, the Swedish and the Brazilian Gripen fighters will have the same configuration for the displays, harmonizing the programs. This would mean great savings to aircraft maintenance and in future software development. The transfer of technology program also continues to advance. So far, 165 Brazilian engineers have been trained in Sweden and completed their technology transfer program.

The Gripen’s FTI (Flight Test Instrumentation) aircraft is due to take flight for the first time in 2019. As Brazil is boosting its defence budgets, new fighter jets will be a critical centre of matter for the Forca Aerea Brasileira (FAB, or Brazilian Air Force in English).

Brazil, has it may appear, could soon become the largest Gripen fleet. Reporter Tania Monteiro of the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo writes that technology transfer will be an essential part of any deal. This will come as part of a deal with SAAB. Brazilian industry would indeed be involved in the fighter design stage, not just in construction.

Beyond late-stage development of the JAS-39F, Brazil is the likely launch customer for a naval Sea Gripen, which could add considerable local design work under a future contract. On a very concrete level, the JAS-39BR’s avionics suite will be sourced entirely from Elbit’s Brazilian subsidiary AEL, giving it commonalities with the FAB’s other fighters.

The JAS-39NG reportedly ranked 1st in the FAB’s technical trials, had strong support from Brazilian aerospace firms, and offered a complete package worth about $6 billion (about 10 billion Reals), of which $1.5 billion was for maintenance. Saab even began working with a number of Brazilian firms in advance of any contracts, discussing sub-contracting possibilities, and working to improve their industrial proficiency with key technologies like advanced composite materials. That finally paid off in a 36-plane order that secured the Gripen NG’s future.