SAO JOSE DOS CAMPOS, Brazil --- Embraer considers the Swedish Gripen fighter's technology transfer package the best option for the company to establish a strategic partnership in the context of the F-X2 fighter competition. The contract provides for the purchase of 36 fighter aircraft, worth U.S. $ 2 billion, and is also disputed by Dassault Aviation, with the Rafale, and by Boeing, with the F-18E/F Super Hornet.
"We evaluated the three proposals at the request of the Brazilian Air Force, and we concluded that the offer submitted by the Swedish company Saab will best ensure that Brazil obtains the know-how and the technology to “learn on the job” said Embraer’s Deputy Chief Executive for the defense market, Orlando José Ferreira Neto.
He says that the Gripen NG, a more advanced version of the Gripen C / D which has not yet entered production, is the only competitor that offers the opportunity for Brazil to begin developing a fighter from scratch, or almost. "We are not interested in producing parts. We seek to learn what we don’t yet know, and that will be useful for us in the development of future aircraft."
Ferreira Neto’s opinion is shared by most of the companies that make up the aerospace supply chain in Sao Jose dos Campos. "We will evolve from a group of small businesses dependent on Embraer to a vertically-integrated group capable of providing integrated, complex aerostructures, not only to Embraer but also to the foreign market,” said César Augusto da Silva, chief executive of Akaer.
Akaer is part of the T-1 Holding, which comprises five Brazilian companies involved in the Swedish Gripen bid, and which would be responsible for the design and production of the fuselage, rear fuselage and wings in case Brazil bought the Swedish fighter. The Gripen’s fuselage, according to Da Silva, is more complex than anything yet made in Brazil, as it involves high-tech systems such as latest-generation alloys and advanced materials like composites. "The price we pay for the fighters will be returned to Brazilian companies in the form of jobs and new technologies." In five years, according to Da Silva, T-1 estimates it will be able to export $ 500 million worth of aerospace goods, and create 2900 direct jobs in Brazil.
For Embraer, the F-X2 advanced fighter program will also bring technological benefits. "We are interested in the technologies involved in a supersonic flight and the use of advanced materials to face the new challenges they pose to aircraft manufacturers," said Ferreira Neto.
The technology of next-generation fighter radar, according to Ferreira Neto, could also be used in civil aviation. Another area of know-how is the system that optimizes fuel consumption. "The F-X2 program can bring valuable know-how and knowledge for research and development, which will find applications for example in the KC-390 transport aircraft we are developing for the Brazilian air force.”
The capacity of the domestic industry, according to Ferreira Neto, is essential to ensure the country's capability in future to make changes and modifications in the aircraft that Brazil will acquire, and to build a new fighter. "The proposed transfer of technology must be based on that tripod: autonomy, capacity-building of national industry and preparation for new challenges."
The proposal of the French Rafale and the American F-18, according to the Embraer executive, is to supply ready-made aircraft, which limits the participation of Brazilian industry in development activities and in new technologies. (ends)