Saab has started production of its first Gripen F for the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB, Brazilian Air Force), marking an important milestone in its development programme.
The aircraft – a two-seat variant of Saab’s new Gripen E single-seat multirole fighter – is designed with two missions in mind. The first is to provide in-flight pilot training and the second is to allow two aircrew members to share the workload by using different display settings during high-end operational missions.
The first metal cut for the Gripen F was made the company’s facilities in Linköping, in the Swedish province of Östergötland, and will form a part of the aircraft’s air duct section, located just behind the cockpit.
Col Renato Leite, head of the FAB’s Monitoring and Control Group (GAC-Saab), said: “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.”
A joint industrial programme has been formed between Saab and Brazilian partner companies, comprising of Embraer, AEL Sistemas, Akaer and Atech. Approximately 400 workers across this project are working on the development of Gripen F, mainly operating from the Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN) at Embraer’s facility in Gavião Peixoto, in the state of São Paulo. The production of the aircraft will take place in Sweden and Brazil.
Jonas Hjelm, head of Saab’s aeronautical business area, said: “Very effective teamwork among many dedicated people, both in Sweden and in Brazil, paved the way for this milestone on this new version of Gripen. These kinds of milestones are special moments due to their rarity and that feels great.”
In total, Brazil has ordered 28 single-seat Gripen E fighters, the first of which will be delivered in 2021. The air arm also has eight Gripen Fs on order, with the first hand over expected to take place in 2023. Saab has also offered the Gripen F to Finland for its HX fighter procurement programme to replace its fleet of Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornets.