Brazil has finalised a $4.68 billion deal for 36 Saab Gripen NG fighters after concluding more than 20 months of negotiations over pricing and industrial cooperation against the backdrop of a deepening economic and political crisis.

Saab announced late on 9 September that the full value of the contract is now internally booked in the company’s order backlog.

Brazilian engineers and technicians will travel to Sweden in October to begin training to assemble components and full aircraft. Saab plans to deliver all 36 Gripen NGs between 2019 and 2024.

“We will now work full speed ahead to ensure timely deliveries of Gripen NG to Brazil,” says chief executive Håkan Buskhe.

Gripen NG mock-up - Brazilian air force

Brazilian air force

The Brazilian government selected the Gripen NG over the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Dassault Rafale in December 2013.

Saab then signed a contract with the federal government of Brazil in October 2014, but several key details still had to be finalised before it could book the order into its backlog.

Last April, Embraer and Saab signed a memorandum of understanding to establish joint management of the development and production programme.

At the same time, Brazil’s economy was mired in an enduring slump caused partly by a corruption scandal exposed within the country’s ruling party.

As Brazil’s currency value plummeted last June, government officials asked Sweden to renegotiate the interest rate on the Gripen NG contract, which was agreed in late July. The Brazilian Senate agreed to the new terms in early August, setting the stage to finally consummate the deal this week.

The Brazilian air force has attempted to acquire new fighters since 1996, settling during the interim for used Dassault Mirage 2000s and a modernisation of its Douglas A-4s and Northrop F-5s.

After a long-delayed selection process, Brazil ultimately decided to buy the latest version of the single-engined Swedish fighter, with a mission package including an active electronically scanned array radar and infrared search and track sensor.

“The acquisition of Gripen NG will provide benefits beyond the enlargement of the Brazilian air force’s [FAB] operational capacity. In addition to equipping FAB with one of the world's most modern fighters, the participation in the development of Gripen NG means a technological breakthrough for Brazilian industry,” says Brazilian air force chief Lt Brig Nivaldo Luiz Rossato.