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Nelson Düring– Chief editor
During the third edition of the BID Brazil Show, DefesaNet’s chief editor had exclusive access to information regarding the current status of the negotiations between Brazil’s Ministry of Defense and Swedish company SAAB over a so-called “Gap Filler”.
That’s how both parties refer to the aircrafts that will be operating after the deactivation of the Mirage 2000/CB aircrafts of the Brazilian Ar Force’s (FAB) 1st Air Defense Group. The Mirage went out of service december last year. The Gap Filler planes will also replace F-5EM/FM units set for decommissioning in 2017. Another key point in the process is the transition training for pilots and personnel who will operate and maintain the Gripen NG aircrafts in the future.
The F-5 will be allocated at the Anapolis Air Base. The initial plan is to integrate not only the members of the 1st Defense Group, but also those of the 1st/14th Aviation Group, also known as Pampa Squad, currently at the Canoas Air Base.
The Pampa Squad was the first unit to operate the F-5EM/FM, starting back in 2005.
At first, Brazil’s MD and SAAB planned to sign an “operational leasing” deal for the Gripen C/D aircrafts, currently available for operation at the Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force).
In the latest weeks, the concept of leasing evolved into a contract model based on “acquisition per flight hours”. According to a source from the Brazilian Air Force Command, the current arrangement presents a better answer to the Brazilian Air Force’s demands.
The schedule devised by the Air Force establishes a total of 1.200 to 1.500 flight hours along three to four years of operations, including the defense missions performed by the 1st Defense Group securing the Central Plateu area, where Brasilia is located.
In an ideal scenario, it would be best for the Brazilian Air Force to acquire 12 to 16 Gripen, including units of the two-seat D version. However, the current geopolitical circumstances may limit the deal to a final number of 08 to 12 aircrafts – at least 08 in order to form two complete squads.
The conflicts in Ukraine and the escalation of military tensions in Europe to near Cold War levels have created a new challenge for the Swedish Air Force, which is the Scandinavian nation’s primary defense line. Assuring the Flygvapnet’s readiness placed unexpected pressure on the Gripen’s production and logistics chain. This happened not only in Sweden, but also in other countries employing the SAAB aircrafts, such as Czech Republic and Hungary.
Other nations, like Slovakia, have shown interest in acquiring Gripen units as well. The country already has leased aircrafts from Czech Republic, and both nations plan to develop an integrated air defense system. Swedish technicians are currently working on the project.
The negotiations now
During the III BID Brazil Show (sept. 1st to sept 5th), Sweden’s Defense vice-Minister,Carl Von Der Esch, and Flygvapnet’s commander, Major General Micael Bydén took part in several meetings in Brasilia.
Also during the Show, the vice-Minister and the Commander took the opportunity to contact with representatives of EMBRAER Defense and Security, Sweden’s primary partner in Brazil. The committee was chaperoned by EMBRAER’s International Sales vice-President Geraldo Gomes, and received a briefing on the company’s new military transport aircraft – the KC-390. (See DefesaNet’s exclusive photos at the top of the page).