Programme’s development in Sweden and Brazil

Paolo Valpolini

Looking to the Swedish part of the programme, in addition to the first aircraft flown for the first time by a Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) pilot but also involving Swedish Air Force’s pilots, “two more aircraft (the second and third serial production aircraft) will be delivered in 2020, and those will also join the joint verification and validation programme. We are also planning to start activities at the FMV test center later this year, meaning we are going to test-fly the aircraft on two places here in Sweden”. The industrial cooperation with the customer base is fundamental, providing higher efficiency, reduced time and money spending, added de la Motte.

Looking to the Brazilian programme, after the first production aircraft flown in August 2019, Brazilian technicians, test engineers and pilots are currently working side-by-side with Saab personnel at the test programme in Linköping (Sweden). “The first Brazilian Gripen E will remain in Sweden until the end of 2020, when it will be transferred together with this personnel and Saab people to start the Gripen Flight Test Centre (GFTC) in Brazil”, he said. In 2014, the Brazilian MoD signed for a programme centered on the delivery of an initial batch of 28 Gripen Es and eight twin-seat operational Gripen Fs (but more batches are planned), in addition to a comprehensive technology transfer and joint-industrial team package to develop, produce, equip, maintain, update and support the new aircraft throughout its life time in Brazil. In addition to the local production, the main element of these joint-activities is the Gripen F, which is being developed for the Brazilian Air Force as a 50:50 development partnership between Saab in Sweden and the Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN) in Brazil. The two-seat Gripen F is not only an important addition to the product portfolio for Brazil but also for other customers, commented de la Motte, as the aircraft is being currently proposed also for the Finnish tender. Based in Gavião Peixoto São Paulo, the GDDN brings together Saab and Embraer, as well as industrial partners AEL Sistemas, Atech, Akaer and the Brazilian Air Force’s Department of Aerospace Science and Technoloy (DCTA) research division.

Highlighting the latest joint activities developments, among which the inauguration of the systems rig aircraft simulator at the GDDN in 2019, the Saab’s head of the programme announced that the first part of the Gripen-F platform, which is to be delivered into Brazil in 2023, was manufactured last week at Saab’s facilities in Linköping [to read the Press Release please click HERE]. The latter is part of the air duct section, just behind the aircraft cockpit . “This milestone is important for the Gripen project because it demonstrates that the development phase is proceeding properly. This signals the beginning of the production of the two-seater aircraft, Gripen F, which is much anticipated by the Brazilian Air Force,” says Colonel Renato Leite, head of the Monitoring and Control Group (GAC-Saab) at the Brazilian Air Force, in a video presented during the annual seminar. “With today testing focusing more on the mission suite and sensor systems in addition to flight envelope expansion”, de la Motte continued. The new generation avionics architecture, mission and sensors suite, generated a lot of expectations among Saab and the customers, and according to the early results of testing activities “the systems are performing better than expected”, de la Motte stated. The Gripen E/F is equipped both for the Swedish and Brazilian air forces with a glass cockpit centered on a wide-area/large-area display (WAD/LAD) that was developed by AEL Sistemas, a Brazilian subsidiary of Elbit Systems, in addition to the Targo helmet mounted display (HMD), and a sensor suite including Leonardo ES-05 Raven AESA radar, Skyward G-IRST and latest generation IFF, together with a new generation integrated EW suite including digital Radar Electronic Support Measure/Radar Warning Receiver (RESM/RWR), Radar Electronic Counter-Measure (RECM), chaffs/flare and active expandable decoy (AED) dispensing systems developed by Saab in addition to an integrated missile approach warning sub-system providing protection against latest generation missile systems. The Gripen E/F can also host and manage Saab’s Arexis Electronic Attack Escort Jamming Pod which was first flight tested on November 2019.