The highlights of the Brazilian Gripen Programme in 2018

Last year was a productive one for the Brazilian Gripen Programme, with several important milestones. Among other achievements, we can highlight the first Brazilian aircraft in final production in Linköping and the important results of the joint development of Gripen E and F in Linköping and at the Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN), in São Paulo State, Brazil.

Since the beginning of the Transfer of Technology Programme in October 2015, more than 120 Brazilian engineers have participated in theoretical and practical ‘on-the-job’ training in Sweden in several technical disciplines related to the development, production and maintenance of the aircraft. These engineers have returned to Brazil and most of them are currently working at the GDDN.

 


In total, more than 350 Brazilian specialists (engineers, technicians and assembly operators) will be trained in Sweden until the end of the Transfer of Technology Programme, which involves more than 60 offset projects. From now on, the ‘on-the-job training’ in Sweden will be focusing on flight test, verification and production.

Today, 115 Brazilian engineers and 18 expatriates from Sweden work at the GDDN. They are involved in Gripen E/F development work in areas such as vehicle systems, aeronautical engineering, airframe design, systems installation, system integration, avionics, human-machine interface and communications.

"The Gripen programme continues to progress according to schedule, and expectations are high since the first Brazilian aircraft will begin the flight test campaign in Linköping this year," says Mikael Franzén, head of business unit Gripen Brazil and vice president at business area Aeronautics at Saab. "The joint effort of Brazilians and Swedes makes me confident for another year of great results in the development and production of the Brazilian aircraft", concludes the executive.

Another great accomplishment in 2018 was the acceptance by the Swedish Air Force to equip the 60 Gripen E fighters with the most modern cockpit displays, developed by AEL Sistemas, harmonizing the Swedish and the Brazilian Programs. The three displays - Wide Area Display (WAD), Head-Up Display (HUD) and Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) – were initially developed to meet the operational needs of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB).  This deal turns AEL Sistemas, a most important beneficiary and partner of the Gripen Programme in Brazil, into one of Saab's main global suppliers.  This achievement exceeds the expectations of the Brazilian Air Force in increasing the capacity of the national industry, one of the great objectives of the Brazilian Gripen Programme, and is fruit of intense technology transfer and technical collaboration between Saab and AEL.

Gripen E Flight Test Campaign

Since the first flight with the Gripen E test aircraft (39-8), on 15th June 2017, an intensive flight trials period has been successfully conducted. Phase 1 testing was to conduct initial envelope expansion and verification of aircraft general systems including the new avionics suite. The aircraft has shown expected performances and behaviour, with high availability and reliability. A maintenance and ground trials period followed Phase 1 flight testing. The aircraft carried out ground vibration trials with external stores as an example of this phase. Since then further flight testing was ongoing in 2018 and now into 2019. During July 2018 Gripen test aircraft 39-8 conducted a number of successful separation tests with external loads (IRIS-T missile and and external fuel tank) whilst in October 2018 the first firing took place in Sweden with IRIS-T. In November last year Gripen E also carried the Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) for the first time.  These steps are part of the progress of weapons integration activities for Gripen E.

 


On 26 November 2018 Saab completed the successful first flight of the second Gripen E test aircraft. The second Gripen E test aircraft, designated 39-9, took off on its maiden flight at 09.50 am on 26 November 2018. The test flight was operated from Saab’s airfield at Linköping, Sweden, with Saab test pilot Robin Nordlander. There are now two test aircraft (39-8 and 39-9) executing successful flights. With 39-9 the trial activities has expanded as Saab now test more functionality with on-board systems, such as testing of the tactical systems and sensors.


Currently a number of aircraft for both Sweden and Brazil are in final assembly in Sweden and are on track to deliver in line with customer agreements. Joint verification and validation of the first serial production aircraft to the Swedish customer will take place in 2019. Serial production deliveries will continue during 2020. The first aircraft to Brazil will be delivered to start the flight test campaign in Linköping, in 2019. The others will be delivered in Brazil from 2021.