Swedish aerospace and defence company Saab and Brazilian aerospace conglomerate Embraer have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 11 April to strengthen collaboration in several domains, including engineering and business development opportunities for the C-390 transport aircraft and future Gripen fighters. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was unveiled at the LAAD defence and security exhibition held in Rio de Janeiro.

The companies will work together to promote the C-390 Millennium aircraft as the preferred choice for the Swedish Air Force’s requirement for tactical air transportation. Saab equipment and systems will be evaluated for integration into the C-390 Millennium multi-mission aircraft as part of the MoU.

The C-390 Millennium aircraft is a medium-sized military cargo aircraft with the ability to carry a payload of up to 26 tons, reach speeds of 470 knots, and travel long distances. Its range of missions stems from transporting cargo and troops to conducting medical evacuations, search and rescue operations, firefighting efforts, and humanitarian missions. The C-390 can also operate on temporary or unpaved runways, including packed earth, soil, and gravel, providing advantages in challenging environments.

The KC-390 has successfully undergone aerial refuelling, both as a refuelling vessel and as a recipient of fuel from another KC-390 equipped with pods beneath its wings. The aircraft has achieved Full Operational Capability (FOC), indicating that the project has fulfilled all specified requirements and that the aircraft is capable of effectively carrying out all intended missions.

In 2014, a contract was signed between Saab and the Brazilian Government for the provision of 36 Gripen aircraft to the Brazilian Air Force. This initiative is being touted by Saab as the most extensive technology transfer it has undertaken, as the deal also included logistical support, weapons, support systems, simulators, training, and development. Saab’s Gripen programme is facilitating the growth of Brazil’s defence industry through local companies, with Embraer serving as its primary strategic partner. 

The Gripen E is a multi-role aircraft system for ‘forward-thinking air forces’ incorporating high-specification combat systems for contested environments. The first Brazilian Gripen E fighter completed its maiden flight at Saab’s airfield in Linköping, Sweden, in August 2019. The aircraft was delivered to the Brazilian Air Force for testing, in September 2019.

The announcement made yesterday for collaboration in engineering and technical future fighter studies will consolidate the technology transfer that Saab has initiated for the Brazilian defence industry under the ongoing Gripen programme for the Brazilian Air Force. In a press release issued on the same day, the companies said this development has the potential to bolster the expansion of the Gripen E well into 2060 and addresses requirements for future fighter aircraft.

The companies hope to attract clients in Brazil and Latin America, making use of the Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN), the Gripen Flight Test Center (GFTC), and the final assembly line at Embraer in Gavião Peixoto.