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Saab nears Gripen contract with Brazil

Saab is on track to sign a contract with Brazil to provide its air force with the Gripen NG multirole fighter, following the nation's selection of the type for a 36-aircraft purchase in December 2013.

Speaking on 23 October, chief executive Håkan Buskhe said an agreement should be signed “in the near future”.

“The negotiations with Brazil regarding Gripen NG (Gripen E/F) move forward according to plan, and the ambition is to reach an agreement in the near future,” Buskhe states, as part of the Swedish company's year-to-date financial results release.

On 18 December 2013, Brazilian defence minister Celso Amorim and air force commander Gen Juniti Saito declared Saab the winner of the F-X2 fighter contest. It was also announced that the negotiation phase would take 10-12 months to complete.

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The acquisition will cost some $4.5 billion, with the purchased aircraft to replace retired Dassault Mirage 2000C fighters and a number of modernised Northrop F-5EMs. Deliveries are expected to start 48 months after the contract is signed, and will eventually reach a rate of 12 aircraft per year.

An option to supply Brazil a bridging fleet of existing Swedish air force Gripen C/Ds could also be included in the deal, following Brasília’s retirement of its Mirage 2000C/Ds at the end of 2013 and the need for an interim capability until the new-build Gripens enter service.

In July, a memorandum of understanding was signed by Saab and Brazilian manufacturer Embraer, whose absence had been noted last December when the Gripen selection was announced. “This is thought to further strengthen Gripen’s position in the market,” Buskhe says.

Brazil’s Gripens will be assembled at Embraer’s military factory and flight test centre in Gavião Peixoto, the company's chief executive Frederico Curado said in July.

Embraer will also play a role in developing the two-seat version of the Gripen NG, which would mark its first significant effort in designing and producing a new supersonic aircraft.

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