Called the new F-39 Gripen by the Brazilian Air Force, Saab’s new Gripen-E variant has flown its maiden flight for Brazil, taking off from airport in Navegantes to Embraer´s facility in Gavião Peixoto on 24th September.
Brazil has ordered 36 such aircraft, with a further 36 expected to be ordered soon. These aircraft are assembled at Embraer facilities in Brazil itself.
“Together with the Brazilian industry, I am proud to be part of building a long-term strategic partnership with Brazil and the Brazilian Air Force.
With Gripen Brazil will have one of the most advanced fighters in the world and the technology transfer program will allow Brazil to develop, produce and maintain supersonic fighters,” said Håkan Buskhe, President and CEO of Saab.
Saab has been pushing its Gripen fighter jets to various countries including Finland, Croatia, Philippines, India, Mexico, and several others have shown interest including many African, European, and Latin American countries.
However, it has only seen successful deliveries to Sweden, the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa, Thailand, and Brazil. Saab is also pitching its Gripen E to Canada, which is looking to replace its older F-18 fleet.
While the company has been trying to pitch this aircraft to these nations, interestingly, India has been a dream customer for Saab, which is expected to give orders for more than 114 fighters under a new contract, to replace its ageing MiG-21Bis and Jaguar fleet.
With India’s new FDI model under the new indigenization drive, the company has seen it as a lucrative offer and is willing to set up local production lines with full transfer of technology.
Saab’s Gripen is said to be competing with Lockheed Martin’s F-21, Dassault’s Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, MiG-35, and Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet in a new competition for the Indian Air Force informally dubbed “MMRCA 2.0” by the Indian media. Recently, the service has received the first batch of Rafales in July 2020.
The JAS-39E Gripen
Also termed as “F-39” by the Brazilian Air Force, this single-engine fighter is said to be a highly upgraded model from its predecessors, based on the NG variant. What sets it apart is the addition of a new Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a new GE F-414G engine, and increased fuel capacity and payload.
This variant is also known as the Super JAS and is a tremendous improvement over its previous models. However, this increases its overall cost of operation considerably and makes it one of the costliest 4+ generation aircraft in service. The Swedish air force is also planning to upgrade its earlier iterations of the Gripen to the new E/F standards.