Brazil has selected the Saab Gripen E/F for the 36 aircraft F-X2 requirement to replace its air force's older combat types.

With an acquisition cost in the region of $4.5 billion, the Gripens will replace the Dassault Mirage 2000C fighters operated by the 1st Air Defence Group and a number of the modernised Northrop F-5EMs in four other Air Force squadrons.

The long-awaited announcement was made on 18 December by Brazilian defence minister Celso Amorim and Brazilian air force Chief Gen Juniti Saito.

The decision was driven by aircraft performance, transfer of technology and low through-life costs, according to the officials.

Contract negotiation is expected to last between 10 and 12 months.

Saab has guaranteed the total transfer of technology of “all systems” including the weapons command software, which will allow future integration of Brazilian-developed missiles and weapons.

Gripen NG

Peter Liander/Saab AB

Deliveries are expected to start 48 months from contract signing and will eventually reach the rate of 12 aircraft per year.

Existing Gripen C/Ds operated by the Royal Swedish Air Force can also be supplied to Brazil in order to replace recently-retired Mirage 2000C/Ds.

The older Swedish aircraft will be eventually replaced by the new Gripen E/F models.

Amorim says “besides this contract we are also currently open to setting up other partnerships, especially regarding fifth-generation fighters”.

Amorim adds Brazil has a strong relationship with the US and is not concerned about limitations to US-sourced components.

Commenting about the Gripen NG, general Saito says “the intellectual property of this new fighter will be ours”.

Saab had earlier promised to develop a $150 million aerostructures assembly plant in the city of São Bernardo do Campo in the State of São Paulo.

For four years since publication of a short-list, the F-X2 fighter replacement program has pitted Gripen against Dassault's Rafale and the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Most recently, media reports about a visit by French President Francois Hollande to Brazil stoked speculation about the Rafale’s possible selection.

Dassault, which has been working towards a new deal in Brazil for the past 15 years, has expressed its disappointment with the selection of the Swedish fighter.

"The Gripen is a lighter, single engine aircraft that does not match the Rafale in terms of performance and therefore does not carry the same price tag," it says. "This financial rationale fails to take into account either the Rafale’s cost-effectiveness or the level of technology offered."