Friday, December 20, 2013

Brazil Selects Saab JAS39 Gripen E/F or NG Fighter Aircraft

Brazil has selected Saab's Gripen E/F or Gripen NG from Sweden for its F-X2 program and will now begin contract negotiations for 36 aircraft, worth an estimated $4.5 billion. That is expected to last one year, followed by deliveries after four years.

The contract is expected to include technology transfer that Brazil is looking for to allow for instance the integration of Brazilian missiles and weapons. Besides technology transfer, local assembly and joint fighter development, Sweden submitted the lowest bid and agreed to help finance the deal.

The Swedish Gripen beat Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Dassault's Rafale after an extended selection process that lasted over a decade and was marked by repeated delays and setbacks. It will replace the Mirage 2000C and F-5 in service with the Brazilian Air Force.

The win for Saab came on the same day it was awarded a 16.4 billion Swedish Krona or $2.5 billion production contract from the Swedish government to modify 60 JAS39 Gripen C/D fighters to the Gripen E/F standard.

Besides Brazil, Switzerland is also expected to finalize a contract in 2014 for 22 new Gripen E/F fighter aircraft, which has received government approval and is now pending a public referendum. Older versions of the Gripen are currently in service with Sweden, Hungary, Chech Republic, South Africa and Thailand.

Although Boeing's offer was rejected, the selection of the Gripen is not a complete loss for the United States because the Gripen relies on some American components, including the engine.

On the other hand, France suffered a bigger loss and it's still without a firm export customer for its Rafale, despite extended negotiations with the Indian government. At one point it was considered the front runner to win the contract as the previous Brazilian president had expressed his preference for the Rafale.

The Gripen fulfills a niche within the western world as a relative low-cost multi-role fighter aircraft that cost into account in addition to performance. It seeks a more balanced price to performance ratio without focusing excessively on advanced technology as is often the case.

In this regard, it goes against the established trend where western fighters, in their quest for technological advancements, have raised prices to such an extent that they have often times priced themselves out of the market.

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