The UK government is unlikely to block any request by Argentina to buy Saab Gripen NG fighters, Brazilian defence minister Jacques Wagner told reporters on 15 April.
The statement at the Latin American Aviation and Defence exhibition comes nearly six months after Argentinian defence minister Agustin Rossi expressed interest in Brazilian-assembled Gripen NGs, despite a need to import key technologies such as the ejection seat and the radar from a historic rival in the UK.
So far, there has still been no official request by Argentina to import British technologies for either Gripen NGs or Embraer KC-390s, Lt Gen José Crepaldi, head of Brazilian air force acquisition programmes.
Argentina is one of the three international industrial partners in Embraer’s KC-390 tactical transport. Several KC-390 systems are supplied by British or British-controlled firms, such as BAE Systems flight control computers and active side stick controllers, Ultra Electronics electronic controls and sensors as well as Cobham’s fuel tanks, inflight refueling equipment and composite material nose radomes.
Wagner mentioned that to overcome any “obstacles” Embraer might have to substitute these blocked components by other international suppliers. Wagner did not elaborate on whether Brazil or Argentina would be required to pay for such redesign and recertification of the KC-390 or the Gripen NG.
According to Wagner, the full resolution of restrictive export policies will only be possible once the UK accepts to “discuss the issue of the Falklands Islands sovereignty with Argentina through UN-mediated talks”.
Separately, Wagner also acknowledged that the Brazilian government recently owed Embraer around $200 million in unpaid bills for the KC-390 development, but about $40 million of that total was paid last week.