Varig and Saab confirm technology partnership for Gripen fighter aircraft

VARIG AND SAAB CONFIRM
TECHNOLOGY PARTNERSHIP
FOR GRIPEN FIGHTER AIRCRAFT

Meeting in Sao Paulo, Ozires Silva, Evandro Oliveira and Bengt Halse,
the presidents of VARIG, VEM - VARIG Engenharia e Manutenção, and SAAB
AB, respectively reaffirm their partnership in the development of
projects in the areas of logistic support and transfer of technology, as
part of an industrial cooperation program (offset) required by the
Brazilian government in the bid for the acquisition of a new fleet of
fighter jets (F-X BR Project) for the Brazilian Air Force.
VEM S/A is a subsidiary of VARIG that specializes in the area of
aeronautical engineering and maintenance for commercial, corporate and
military aircraft. It employs around 4,000 highly-qualified engineers
and technicians and is expected to achieve sales of US$ 200 million in
2002.
The Swedish company, SAAB AB, and the English company, BAE SYSTEMS
equally own Gripen International, which intends to be the supplier of
the Gripen fighter jets to the Brazilian Air Force and which appointed
VEM as its strategic partner in Brazil to provide logistics support.
According to the president of VEM, Evandro Oliveira, "the partnership
between VEM and Gripen International is part of VEM's strategic
proposition to position itself in the military aviation market, as a
Brazilian alternative to the Brazilian Air Force for the support,
maintenance and development of military aircraft in Brazil, able to
contribute to the success of the current programs to renew the fleet of
the Brazilian Air Force".
The choice of Gripen to supply the new fighters to the Brazilian Air
Force will enable the creation of the Gripen Technology Center in
Brazil, in partnership with and operated by VEM, which will comprise a
fully comprehensive systems development center, to not only ensure
Brazil's self-sufficiency, but also the continuous improvement of the
support to the operational capacity of the fleet of aircraft. The Center
could also be expanded to include simulators for training, both for
pilots and for qualifying teams of instructors.
For the president of VARIG, Ozires Silva, "VEM's participation in
military programs forms part of VARIG's strategy to seek additional
income for the Group in areas in which it has highly skilled technical
capabilities. Today in Brazil, only VEM has the installed technical
capacity to provide the operational/maintenance support for the F-X BR
fighters". Further, according to the president of VARIG, "our
partnership with Gripen comprises the perfect association between the
only fourth-generation aircraft in the Bid and the most advanced
aeronautical maintenance complex in the Southern Hemisphere, capable of
providing support to latest generation aircraft ".
The president of SAAB AB, Mr. Bengt Halse stated that "this cooperation
initiative between VARIG and Gripen will assure the Brazilian Air Force
of the best and most advanced support when the new Gripen fighter
aircraft go into operation and our preparation has already begun. Our
expectations are for this to be the start of a new phase in further
increasing the relations between Brazil, the United Kingdom and Sweden
".
SAAB AB is one of the world's leading high technology companies, with
its main operations focusing on defense, aviation and space. The SAAB
group has over 14,000 employees and average annual sales of
approximately US$ 1.6 billion.

Further information and pictures are available from:
· GRIPEN INTERNACIONAL
Owe Wagermark, Vice-Presidente Sênior de Comunicações
Phone.: +46 13 18 4014 Cell phone: +46 70 889 60 00 Fax.: +46 13
18 0055
owe.w...@gripen.com

· VEM - VARIG ENGENHARIA E MANUTENÇÃO
Lúcio Ricardo - Gerência de Imprensa
Tel.: (21) 3814-5474 Fax.: (21) 3814-5714
paulo...@varig.com


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