Swedish airframer Saab is looking to expand the customer base for its Gripen fighter, pursuing sales opportunities around the world.

While orders from Brazil and the company’s home country of Sweden are anchoring the programme, Saab is also in discussions with militaries elsewhere in Europe, South America and Asia regarding the latest Gripen E variant.

Saab officials, speaking on 21 February, revealed the airframer is in talks with governments in Peru, Colombia, Thailand, the Philippines and Austria to offer the Gripen E as a replacement for existing fighter fleets.

The Swedish manufacturer is also pursuing life-cycle extension and sustainment opportunities for legacy Gripen C/D operators including the Czech Republic, Hungary and South Africa.


Source: Saab

Saab is eyeing new export customers for the Gripen E in Asia, South America and Europe

Brazil also appears likely to add to its current order for 36 Gripen E/Fs, particularly following the 2023 launch of an Embraer-partnered Gripen assembly plant in Gaviao Peixoto.

“Their requirement is much more than 36,” says Mikael Franzen, Saab’s chief marketing officer for the Gripen programme.

Worldwide there are currently 21 operational Gripen Es, including test models. The single-seat fighters are spilt between Brazil and Sweden – the only operators of the type at present.

Franzen says Saab made improvements to every system in the older Gripen C/D models under the Gripen E design programme.

Notable examples include an advanced electronic warfare system and the ability to carry three additional air-to-air missiles in a new underbelly station, on top of the four existing underwing pylons.

There are also unspecified improvements to the current GE Aerospace F404 engine – locally designated the RM12 and built in conjunction with GKN Aerospace.

Gripen E assembly

Source: Saab

Embraer-operated Gripen E assembly plant in Gaviao Peixoto is sized to produce fighters at a rate of eight per year for the Brazilian air force

Saab currently has 35 jets in production, with plans to deliver the seventh operational fighter to Brazil and sixth example to Sweden in the near future.

Final assembly of the first of eight two-seat Gripen Fs for Brazil has also begun. 

Saab describes the South American country as the lead operator of the Gripen E. “This is the first time in any fighter programme where the lead operator has not been the home nation,” says a company representative.

“Brazil is taking it into service first and doing an awful lot of the research and development on the airplane ahead of Sweden,” the source adds.

The Embraer-run Gripen assembly site in Brazil is configured for an annual production of eight aircraft. Franzen says Saab may consider investments to boost that capacity, particularly if new orders materialise in South America.