Brazil FX-2 – Saab Gripen Decision is Good for the UK

The UK might have had a small dog in the fight with the Rafale and F-18, but certainly the Brazilian Air Force decision to select the Saab Gripen NG for their FX-2 programme is better news for the UK aeronautics industry.

Following on from comments on another thread (thanks guys) it would seem the UK has potential industrial supply participation in the radar, ejector seat, helmet mounted display, weapons pylons and airborne refuelling systems. Perhaps there might also be some possibility of a future Meteor buy.

If the Sea Gripen becomes a possibility for Brazil, the design work will mostly be completed in the UK and of course, the implications for the QE carriers are obvious, however remote!

Written evidence to the House of Commons Defence Select Committee from Saab in April last year states that 30% by value of the Gripen is manufactured in the UK.

 Brazil FX 2   Saab Gripen Decision is Good for the UK

Whether that will still remain, whether a greater percentage of work will be done by the very capable Brazilian aeronautics sector will no doubt become clear soon but whatever the shape of the deal, good news for the UK, and of course, good news for Saab and Brazil

 Brazil FX 2   Saab Gripen Decision is Good for the UK

Gripen NG: a new generation is ready. Are you?


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56 thoughts on “Brazil FX-2 – Saab Gripen Decision is Good for the UK

  1. Bob

    Good day for SAAB, good day for the UK Aerospace industry, good day for the Brazilian Air Force.

    Also, a bad day for Dassault and that is always a good thing.

  2. Topman

    Excellent news for sweden, they were really desperate for a buyer for their NG Gripen. It keeps them in the FJ business, I think the SAF is/was depended on a buyer for NG Gripen.

  3. Brian Black

    Brazil were looking at replacing their little secondhand French carrier with a Brazilian built PA2 in the mid 2020s.

    Rafale would have seemed the obvious choice for a country building a French designed carrier. It will be interesting to see if they put their money into a naval Grippen, particularly with all the carrier discussion we’ve had on this site in which the mythical SeaGrippen has often cropped up.

  4. Bob

    Dassault does not have a contract in India- just preferred bidder status. The Indian government is dragging it’s feet.

  5. mike

    “Also, a bad day for Dassault and that is always a good thing.”


    Seriously, most logical solution for them, good on them. SAAB could really come out laughing with the Griphen, as many nations come to replace their F-16′s and finding no US offer besides re-engineered vipers.

    The Indian deal will come through, they always do dragg on… but I cant see them changing their minds.

  6. WiseApe

    If Sea Gripen does happen it will give us a fall back position for carrier air, or at least a bargaining chip with Boeing ;-)

    We shouldn’t gloat over the woes of our allies. Still, well done Saab.

  7. Nicky

    The spying scandal didn’t help the Americans as well. It even set the Americans back because of the spying scandal and as a result, countries such as Brazil are looking for NON-American weapons and systems that are not connected to the spy scandal.

  8. Sir humphrey

    Bad news for dassault in region but unlikely to have major impact in middle east.
    Thedecisions there are about which political relationship to invest in and not which fighter is best.

  9. martin

    I’m not so sure if this is not a death blow for Rafale. Production lines already cut to near zero and the Indian contract could be years away if it ever happens. Little else in the pipeline beyond UAE which looks increasingly likely to opt for Typhoon.

    I think from an industrial point of view this vindicates BAE and UK decisions on how we have built our aircraft. With such a small potential international market and a growing list of competitors it important not to have all your eggs in one basket. The UK gets industrial benefits from any sale of Typhoon, Grippen and F35 which is likely to be the sum total of all western fighter production contract for the next few decades.

    Given how the French tried to f**k everyone in the past over Eurofighter I don’t have much sympathy for them. I was also keen for the UK to pursue development of its next fighter with the French as unlike Germany, Italy and Spain they could at least help with international orders but their sales performance thus far has been abysmal and I am no longer sure if getting into bed with Dassault is worth the inevitable hassle of French protectionism.

    Maybe it would be a better idea to follow the Russians lead in partnering up with India on their next generation jet. Saudi Arabia springs to mind as they have little aerospace industry but deep pockets. Might be an ideal partner for a country that has all the necessary design and manufacturing capability to build the very best but no money to pay for it, If we could lock down the entire gulf with such an aircraft we might be looking at a decent sized production run. Then we can let the French and Germans try and build something else which is likely to be an ever bigger comical farce than Eurofighter.

    Also on the Indian contract we should remember at one point the Raffale for Brazil was pretty much a done deal but budget constraints have skuppered it. India is writing cheques it can’t cash at the moment along with most of the “new super powers” and India’s champagne taste’s and brown ale budgets are notorious. I’m not sure signing a EUR 10 billion fighter contract will go down well in a country where people can’t get enough to eat.

    Also on another point most developing countries tend to keep their aircraft for a long time and I would be questioning how long I could expect support on Raffale given just 225 copies of various types in French service and possibly 100 more in Indian service compared to possibly as many as 800 Typhoons and 3,000 F35′s in the world.

  10. martin

    @ Nicky

    “The spying scandal didn’t help the Americans as well. It even set the Americans back because of the spying scandal and as a result, ”

    Strip searching an Indian diplomat probably won’t do Boeing any favours in India if the Raffale contract come back.

  11. martin

    have to love the bit in the video where they tell the planes to land on the road. if only we could that LOL

  12. Observer


    Re: India. People starving and military budgets are 2 different topics. Even if people starve the top of the heap might still have enough for a scary military budget especially if they skimmed the cream of the profits off the country. For example China. People still starve there, but their military budget is shockingly high.

    As for collaborations, try the Russians? They are fairly technically inclined and they’re not known to be nationalistic to the point of scuppering projects, though there is always a first time. It also helps that they are closer than almost everyone else other than European countries which have already developed histories of “project pull”. The different measurement standards they use might be a problem though, but it might be worth a think through.

  13. martin

    @ Observer – Its tue but unlike China India is a democracy. I just can’t see them signing a deal at present given how bad things are at present.

    I can’t imagine a collaboration with Russia on a future fighter. If I had my choice of the new emergers to work with it would probably be Saudi followed by India or Turkey.

    All three would likely be easier and more worth while to work with the the French or the rest of Europe.

  14. martin

    Would possibly consider doing a JSF style deal and letting other nations pay for R&D in exchange for workshare and future orders.

  15. Peter Elliott

    Presumably alongside pushing T26 we will also be talking to the Brazilians about advantageous terms to build a CATOBAR QE? Either as a license build or as blocks for final assembly? Even if its just the design and a lot of the tech it would be well worth having industrially.

    OK so there must be more design work still needed on the deck and the USN havn’t yet got EMALS to sea but the QE hull design must be more mature than the French PA2 and with 2 hulls already in the water by then it will have a big edge in terms of credibility.

  16. Tom

    Well done SAAB. The Gripen is a great aircraft, and will work well for the Brazilian AF.

    A couple of factors that most of worked in their favour (ignoring cost):
    - The Gripen has the best ‘austere’ basing and maintenance specs
    - SAAB radar and other kit on board the BAF AWACS E-99

  17. Observer

    martin, India is as much a democracy as Miss Universe is an election. With a huge mass of uneducated people living hand to mouth do you think the majority voters have the luxury of thinking on big issues? They really vote by popularity, not issues. If you are lucky. If not, it’s money politics. Democracy is a mid to high level developed political structure which requires a big educated middle class of logical thinkers to work, and a lot of countries are not at that stage yet.

  18. Bob

    On the subject of Gripen, there was bad news in Switzerland earlier in the month- the Green Party managed to collect 80,000 signatures with six weeks to go before the deadline meaning there will be a referendum on the purchase in May 2014.

  19. martin

    @ Peter Eliott

    “QE hull design must be more mature than the French PA2″

    I’m guessing the French PA2 is still based on the QE hull even after they said they changed it.

    @ Observer

    “martin, India is as much a democracy as Miss Universe is an election. With a huge mass of uneducated people living hand to mouth do you think the majority voters have the luxury of thinking on big issues? They really vote by popularity, not issues. ”

    I could probably say that about every democracy from Singapore to the USA. it’s imperfect but it’s the best we have to work with.

  20. martin

    @ Mark

    From the Janes article

    “The first payment would not become due until six months after the final aircraft of this batch is delivered”

    With terms like these you have to wonder if you would want to win this contract not to mention giving the Brazilians all the tech etc. Kind of like the Indian deal for Rafale. Its certainly difficult to see the national benefit to France or Sweden of such contracts. I would say our sales in the Gulf are much more favourable to us.

  21. WiseApe

    I wonder how reliable those figures are and just what they represent? Super Hornets only half a billion cheaper than Rafale, but three billion more than Gripen! I suspect we’re not comparing apples with apples here.

  22. Mark


    Probably are a fair reflection of the costs of the types. I know a lot is quoted for the f18s being about 2 pound 50 each to buy and various us budgets to prove it and all but there really not and the Australia deal showed that. I have always wondered how gripen may have developed had some of the major airforces taken it onboard really a pity we never got on board this aircraft.

    Bob yes interesting development not wholey unsurprising mind i have a feeling the UAE intends to buy american f35.

  23. Gloomy Northern Boy

    Just confirmed on BBC R4 News that the UAE have pulled out of the Typhoon deal…

    Horribly Gloomy.

  24. Fedaykin

    Well bad news for EADS and the Typhoon partner companies/nations but good news for UK PLc if it is F-35. Every single F-35 made has significant UK content.

  25. percontator


    Suggest that the delay in the award of the Rafale contract has very little to do with “champagne tastes but brown ale budgets”but rather to the terms of the proposed contract.

    Of the 126 aircraft only some 20+ are to be manufactured by Dassault in France and the remainder by HAL in India. Dassault would however retain responsibility for the delivery and build quality of all the aircraft.

    This represents a major risk for Dassault as HAL is a semi state-owned business with, allegedly, a poor reputation for quality.

  26. Steve

    The Rafale is no longer a contender in many aspects in many markets. The UAE WILL chose Typhoon and the India Rafale deal will collapse not long after. The Rafale bids are not commercially viable and Dassault can’t seem to get their heads around that. Typhoon will be THE aircraft of the Middle East and SE Asia as a result.

  27. jedibeeftrix

    “Bad news for dassault in region but unlikely to have major impact in middle east.
    Thedecisions there are about which political relationship to invest in and not which fighter is best.”

    Agreed with Humph, the ME is investing in a reliable long-term benefactor nation, not a fighter-plane from corporation “X”.

  28. as

    I would agree about Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), there Licence made MIG-21s are death traps.
    Since 1970 more than 170 Indian pilots and 40 civilians have been killed in MiG-21 accidents. At least 14 MiG-21s had crashed between 2010 and 2013. The MIG-21 has a pretty good safety record for the Russian produced aircraft for the numbers in use.
    If the same problem happens for Dassault, it could kill the company.

  29. Think Defence Post author

    Wonder how much of this is related to the Iran deal?

    You could think that if the general security environment improves then defence spending will decline, or, deferred.

    The Reds were in Qatar a few days ago, the sales pitch continues

  30. Gloomy Northern Boy

    Boss – Bang on – the Gulf Arabs fear, loathe and distrust Iran and their own Shia minorities much, much more than we can imagine and don;t give a stuff about Western Values (Provided they can keep flats and bank accounts in London, Paris and New York)…in fact they think us a set of gullible (if previously useful) twats.

    They would be a lot more comfortable dealing with the brutal and repressive kleptocracies of Russia and China or in a generations time an assertive, populist and proto-Ottoman pan-Turkic block.

    These people mostly hate us and want to kill us…but feared us and found us useful…they are growing to distrust and despise us.

    “Apocalypse” Gloomy.

  31. Mark

    According to a UAE source close to the negotiations, the interim deal with Iran along with the direct diplomatic engagements the UAE has conducted have relaxed tensions between the gulf neighbors and contributed to the deal’s breakdown.

    “At this point in time there is no need to acquire the weapons as our diplomatic efforts have succeeded,” the source said.

    One industry source said the two sides had been unable to agree on price or close the gap on other aspects of the negotiations, including the industrial collaboration package.

    In addition to the fighter talks, a defense agreement expected to be penned between the UK and the UAE has been put on hold regarding the UK assisting the UAE in marketing defense equipment to Europe, the source added.

  32. Sir Humphrey

    Its not good news, but equally you have to remember that in the ME, its far less about the aircraft capability than the totality of the offer at stake and whether the host nation feels it reflects their overall interests.
    If tensions are reducing, F35 is looming and there is a sense that the offer as a whole isn’t where they want to be then the jet quality is almost an irrelevance.
    Its a shame for the UAE which will now miss out on an amazing jet, but its still a credible contender in several other countries, and still has more export orders than Rafale has!

  33. Fedaykin


    The issue with Mig-21 crashes is not to do with the quality of the HAL built examples per say. The main causal issue was an inadequate trainer to transition from onto the Mig-21. Indian Pilots were going from the HJT-36 Kiran or TS-11 onto the Mig-21 Mongol then the single seater. If you look at the details of the crashes the majority were during take off and landing. The Mig-21 has a very high take off and landing speed making it very unforgiving on new inexperienced pilots.

    Before passing comment on Indian Mig-21 operations have a look at RAF attrition rates with the EE Lightning or Luftwaffe F-104G Starfighter.

  34. martin

    Does anyone think the USA will sell F35 to anyone in the Gulf any time soon? It’s not like its short on orders and one might think the threat if selling stealth bombers to Israel’s enemy’s might be a little too much to get through congress.

    Losing out on UAE deal is a big disappointment. It seems that with most developing nations they are keen to get the latest toys but not prepared to pay for them.

    With out UAE deal even if Saudi’s Order more and we get the likes of Bahrain and Qatar on board we can expect to see the production lines close well before 2020. I’m not aware of much else in the potential pipeline after that. I wonder if UK government will start to put its weight behind F35 sales after that?

  35. Mark

    Martin there has been some rumours of Lockheed maybe having to produce some white tails in the near term to keep f35s price under control. Why because while theroetical orders are still high everyone including the US is pushing there order right or reducing numbers dues to cost and budget pressures.

    Would the yanks sell to the Mid East well Lockheed is pushing hard.

    “Douglas Barrie of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London said Lockheed could be trying to stall any European purchase to buy time to complete development of the F-35, and get through the U.S. approval process.

    In past competitions “when they looked like they weren’t going to win with their current offering … the strategy process went from ‘Let’s win this’ to ‘Let’s delay it’,” he said.

    “The delay arguably was about getting the decision point to where you could put the F-35 on the table and say ‘Why don’t you buy the Lightning?’”

  36. Gavin Gordon

    As I recall, BAE had a significant share of Gripen which it sold off – about the same time it got out of building wings for Airbus aircraft, so it could concentrate on US military orders. Anyone see the irony?

  37. PeterW

    I can’t help but think that Brazil was the target destination for the near new UAE mirages and once that option disappeared, so did the option to upgrade them to Eurofighters (or Rafale’s).

  38. WiseApe

    I like this comment from the Mail site:

    “Just up the tax rate in Kensington and get back the lost revenue from them within a year.”


  39. pkcasimir

    There is a very good possibility that this sale will not occur simply because of technology transfer issues. The Gripen uses the a new version of the GE414 jet engine. The Brazilians are demanding complete technology transfer, which the US is unlikely to approve. Brazilian Defense Officials presented a very cocky and dismissive demeanor when they were asked about technology transfer from the US at the time of the announcement of the selection of the Gripen which did not sit well in the US. The US is on no mood to do any favors for Brazil at the moment. Without the GE engine, the Gripen NG is absolutely useless.

  40. Bob

    There are crazy things afoot on the Middle East at the moment. Whilst the failure to bomb Syria would not have been the direct reason for not buying Typhoon’s it is part of a much wider shift in perspective going on there…

  41. Ant

    @ pkcasimir
    Silly question (I genuinely don’t know the answer):
    Can an alternative engine be installed?

  42. Mark


    Dassault are really rather upset about this one and the dummy was spat out particularly about gripen having tech from outside the country. Theres nothing at all to suggest the Americans won’t transfer the GE engine after all GE is a big supplier of engines to embraer and were quite happy to transfer it for the super hornets they tried to sell. If all that should fail then gripen can accept the ej200 engine.

  43. Ant

    @ Mark
    Thank you.

    Then if Gripen can accept the ej200 (a perfectly good enough engine), it would be anyway pointlessly aggravating for USA to prevent sale of the GE414 sale on spurious, politically generated, technology transfer grounds when they (should) want to rebuild relationships with Brazil.
    So it will be sold.

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