Saab has announced the symbolic start of the Gripen F fighter program, with the first metal cut performed for the two-seater aircraft.
The Gripen F is under development for the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) and shares the same advanced design and features as Gripen E, but with an extra seat, displays and controls for a second crew member.
The two-seat Gripen F has both a training mode for pilot training and a combat/operational mode whereby the two crew members can share the workload with different display settings, with the rear seater effectively becoming what is known as a Weapon System Operator.
Both the Gripen E and F are feature a number of improvements over the JAS-39C/D variants which include a more powerful GE F414G engine, Raven ES-05 AESA radar, increased fuel capacity and payload, two additional hardpoints, and other improvements. Brazil has also requested a panoramic 19×8 inch wide area touchscreen display for its aircraft.
“This milestone is important for the Gripen project because it demonstrates that the development phase is proceeding properly. This signals the beginning of the production of the two-seater aircraft, Gripen F, which is much anticipated by the Brazilian Air Force,” says Colonel Renato Leite, head of the Monitoring and Control Group (GAC-Saab) at the Brazilian Air Force.
The Gripen E/F program is a joint collaboration between between Saab and the Brazilian partner companies Embraer, AEL Sistemas, Akaer and Atech.
Saab says approximately 400 engineers are working with the development of Gripen F, mainly at Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN) at the Embraer plant at Gavião Peixoto in São Paulo State, Brazil. Manufacturing will take place both in Sweden and in Brazil.
Brazil has ordered 28 Gripen E fighters that will be delivered to Brazil starting from 2021 and eight Gripen F fighters, starting from 2023. Saab is also offering the Gripen F to Finland for its HX fighter replacement programme to replace its F/A-18C/D Hornet fighters.