“My manager called me into the room, shook my hand and said, ‘Congratulations, you’re going to Sweden,’” says António da Fontoura, a hardware and software engineer at AEL.
“We spent a whole week inside the simulators in order to understand how Gripen’s system works, and we could also feel how these systems - such as the helmet - operate. It has a display that keeps information on the pilot’s visor. If you have a designated target, when looking to the side, the helmet points to its location,” he adds.
Since 2015, several engineers like António have been extensively working to develop various parts of the Gripen fighter along with their Swedish colleagues. More than a 100 Brazilian professionals have been trained so far with a majority of them already working at Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN).
According to General Márcio Bruno Bonotto, "So far, all our expectations have been met. Everything is going as per schedule. 50% of the technology transfer initiatives have been completed. This demonstrates the confidence that FAB and Saab have in each other."
In 2016, Saab and Embraer inaugurated GDDN in Gavião Peixoto, in the state of São Paulo. GDDN is responsible for providing the development environment and simulators required to undertake the fighter development work.
This year in May, Saab unveiled a 5,000-square-meter facility for its future Gripen fighter jet aerostructures plant: Saab Aeronáutica Montagens (SAM). SAM will be responsible for the development of aerostructures for the Brazilian Gripen fighter. The parts that will be developed here include the tail cone, aerodynamic brakes, wing box, front fuselage for the single-seat and two-seat versions and the rear fuselage for the single-seat version of the aircraft.
So far, Saab has remained on track with its Gripen E development programme. Test and evaluation of the prototypes are going well. 39-8 has conducted a number of successful flights carrying external stores. For example, in July this year, Gripen E undertook its first flight post the integration of IRIS-T air-to-air missile on each wingtip, four pylons under the wings and the centre pylon on the fuselage.