The factory in São Bernardo do Campo for manufacturing Gripen E/F fighter jets is Saab’s first outside of Sweden’s borders. The parts produced there will be used for aircraft to be delivered to the Brazilian Air Force, which is en route to becoming one of the leading Gripen users.
Swedish Saab’s plant for manufacturing Gripen E/F fighter aircraft in São Bernardo do Campo in Brazil has commenced operations, the Swedish media network SVT reported.
The factory is Saab’s first outside of Sweden’s borders and bears the name Saab Aeronáutica Montagens (SAM). It has over 70 workers, half of whom will receive training in Sweden. By 2024, the workforce is expected to grow to 200 employees.
At the very beginning, parts like the tailcones and the forebodies of the single-seat version of the Gripen will be manufactured by SAM.
In the future, air brakes, rear bodies, wingboxes and the front body for the two-seat version will also be manufactured there.
“’This is part of a technology transfer programme within the Gripen project. Based on the theoretical and practical on-the-job training of Brazilian engineers and assemblers at Saab in Linköping, we were able to establish a highly qualified production line at SAM, following the same standards that we have at the factory in Sweden,’ says Jonas Hjelm, head of Saab’s Aeronautics business area,” Jonas Hjelm, head of Saab Aeronautics, said.
The aircraft parts from SAM will then be delivered for final assembly at Embraer’s factory in Gavião Peixoto and Saab’s own factory in Linköping.
Founded in 1937, Saab AB is one of Sweden’s leading defence companies. Between 1947 and 1990 it was the parent company of car manufacturer Saab Automobile. Its main focus, however, is fighter aircraft, combat weapons, missile systems, torpedoes, sensor systems, unmanned underwater vehicles, as well as airborne surveillance solutions (including GlobalEye and Saab 2000 Erieye), radars and means of electronic warfare. With some 17,000 employees, Saab is regarded as the linchpin of Sweden’s military-industrial complex.
The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a light single-engine multi-role fighter aircraft. Earlier models of the Gripen achieved moderate success in Central Europe, South Africa and Southeast Asia.
An updated and redeveloped version, designated the Gripen JAS 39E/F, but also referred to as Gripen NG or Super JAS, began deliveries in 2019. The changes include the a new power plant, an active electronically scanned array radar, and significantly increased internal fuel capacity.
The Brazilian Air Force currently operates one F-39E Gripen, with another 27 F-39Es and 8 F-39Fs on order. Another 72 E/F aircraft are to be ordered. Saab won a contract with Brazil in 2014 after a hard-fought competition that included Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon. Technology transfer was a major requirement for all proposals.