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Brazilian air force confirms Gripen acquisition numbers

A leading Brazilian air force figure has confirmed that 108 Saab Gripen NG multi-role fighters will be acquired for the force.

Following the announcement in October that a $5.8 billion contract had been signed for the first batch of 36 aircraft, an air force representative confirmed to the International Fighter conference in London on 18 November that the full requirement will be for 108 airframes.

The Gripen will initially replace Dassault Mirage 2000C fighters that have already been retired, and eventually the Northrop F-5EM and Alenia/Embraer A-1M aircraft that are still in service.

“We had in 2007 a feasibility study to imagine future scenarios,” the representative says. “They reached that final number based on the requirements for the future.”

The 108 will be delivered in three batches, and although it has not yet been decided how many of these will be single-seater and how many will be two-seater aircraft, under the terms of the October contract eight of the first batch of 36 will be two-seat variants.

Brazil has been in discussions with the US Navy regarding the ideal mix of single- and two-seater aircraft that the force needs, plus it has been talking to the South African air force, which also operates the Gripen.

“Our air force staff force is assessing again the number of one-seater to two,” he adds.

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Fifteen of the first batch will be wholly built in Brazil, while the other 21 will be made by Brazilian and Swedish engineers.

In conjunction with Brazil’s national defence strategy released in 2008, which encouraged all defence contracts to favour local industry, 80% of the aerostructure contracts will be bid for by Brazilian industry, the representative says.

“We are comfortable to now say that the transfer of technology…is what we aimed for,” he adds.

Meanwhile, the Denel Dynamics A-Darter air-to-air missile that will be integrated onto the Brazilian Gripens will receive its final qualification “next week”, the representative says.

“This will be on the Gripens that we hope to have by 2019.”

The Gripen will also have the indigenous-built Mectron MAR-1 air-to-surface/air-to-air anti-radiation missile on board.

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