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UK to benefit from Brazilian F-X2 deal

The United Kingdom (UK) is set to reap the rewards following Brazil's USD4.5 billion decision to select the Saab Gripen E to fulfil its F-X2 fighter replacement requirement.

With many of the Gripen's components being manufactured in the UK, the country stands to gain significantly in terms of revenues and jobs following the announcement on 18 December that the Brazilian Air Force is to procure 36 of the Swedish-designed fighters.

While workshare allocations between Sweden, Switzerland, and Brazil have still to be decided, many of the UK-manufactured parts cannot easily be sourced from the three future Gripen E operator nations, and so would likely remain outside the scope of any workshare negotiations.

It has been estimated that as much as 35% of the Gripen E is made up of UK-manufactured parts, with the Selex-Saab ES05 Raven active electronically scanned array radar and Selex Skyward-G infrared search-and-track system being developed in Edinburgh, the AP Precision Hydraulics landing gear being built in Liverpool, and the Martin-Baker Mk 10L ejection seat being made near London. Indeed, such is the level of UK participation in the Gripen E programme that Saab officials previously described the aircraft as being essentially a Swedish/UK hybrid.

With the F-X2 selection now announced, the complicated negotiation process will now begin in earnest before the final contract is signed - a process that is expected to take several months. When Saab first placed its bid on the table, it offered Brazil a highly favourable technology transfer and workshare package, and this would have gone a long way to swinging the deal in the Gripen's favour.

However, in the time that Brazil has considered that offer Switzerland has come on board with the Gripen E and entered into a joint development agreement with Sweden. Industrial incentives would have been offered to the Swiss, and these could complicate the upcoming F-X2 contract negotiations with adjustments having to be made for all parties. Even so, Brazil will be aware that this is the case, and with a follow-on order likely to follow in the future, the F-X2 programme should be big enough to accommodate the industrial requirements of all concerned.

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