In a major shake-up in its aircraft purchasing plans, the Brazilian Air Force plans to nearly double its order for Saab Gripen fighters and halve its number of Embraer KC-390 Millennium transports.
The service explained its plans in two interviews with Brazilian media on June 1 and 2.
In total, the Brazilian Air Force aims to buy between 60 and 70 copies of the Gripen E / F, a fighter that it has renamed F-39E / F. This represents an increase from an initial order of 36 devices.
“We bought the first batch, but we expect it to be around 60 or 70 planes,” said Brazilian Air Force commander Brigadier Lieutenant Carlos de Almeida. Baptista Jr., in an interview with Valor Economico, a financial newspaper. in Brazil on June 2. “Soon it will be time to start talking about a second batch. With a country the size of Brazil, you can’t talk about just 36 fighter jets.
Plans to increase its order of F-39E / F fighters come as the country also cuts its order of Embraer KC-390 transports. Brazil initially ordered 28 units of the aircraft, but after negotiations with Embraer, it expects to receive between 13 and 16 units during the program, he said in an interview with Brazilian publication Aero Magazine. The service previously said Embraer would only produce two planes per year in the future.
The negative impact of the coronavirus on the Brazilian economy, and therefore on government tax revenues, has forced the service to make a difficult choice, Baptista said.
In 2021, the Bazilian air force has only “50% of the resources to pay for the financing of the KC-390 and the Gripen”, he specifies. Faced with a choice between a larger fighter fleet and its nationally developed KC-390, the service opted for future purchases of F-39E / Fs.
Changes in Brazilian Air Force procurement plans could be mixed for Embraer, which is involved in domestic production of the F-39E / F fighter. The agreement to acquire 36 aircraft includes the production in the country of 15 copies of the fighter, in partnership with Embraer, the remainder of the fleet to be built by Saab in Sweden. It also includes a technology transfer agreement to train more than 350 Brazilian engineers and technicians in Sweden in the manufacture of the fighter.
It is not known how much of the larger order of 60 to 70 planes would be built in Brazil. Embraer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The KC-390 program has struggled over the past 12 months. In April 2020, Embraer’s joint venture deal with Boeing to sell the aircraft to the world collapsed. At the time, American society was reeling from the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and the grounding of the 737 Max airliner.
Embraer has claimed he would be able to handle global transport sales without Boeing and has numerous international sales campaigns underway. The company also claims that its production capacity for the KC-390 has not declined.
In addition to the order for now smaller aircraft from Brasilia, Embraer has five aircraft on order from the Portuguese Air Force and two aircraft from the Hungarian Air Force. It is also trying to convert 33 letters of intent into firm orders from the Argentine Air Force, Chilean Air Force, Colombian Air Force, Army of the Czech air and aviation services company SkyTech, according to fleet analyzer Cirium.