Air Warfare

Sweden’s Saab, Brazil’s Embaer partner up for Gripen, C-390 sales

The companies hope their intercontinental partnership will expand sales of their own jets and increase collaboration on existing orders.


Saab’s Gripen fighter jet is the backbone of Swedish air power (Saab)

WASHINGTON — The Swedish aerospace firm Saab and Brazilian aircraft builder Embraer announced a new agreement this week to deepen collaboration on Saab’s JAS 39 Gripen fighter jet and to pitch Embraer’s C-390 Millennium airlifter to the Swedish Air Force.

The emerging partnership, unveiled Tuesday during the Latin American Aerospace and Defense (LAAD) conference in Rio de Janeiro, could strengthen a bid by Embraer to get Sweden to buy the Millennium, where native Saab is a national champion.

The collaboration further highlights Embraer’s maneuvers to capture a greater share of the military aircraft market. It follows the company’s recently announced partnership with L3Harris to pitch the tanker version of the C-390 to the US Air Force for a next-gen air refueler.

For the Gripen, at times a competitor of the F-35 and in hot pursuit of more international customers, Saab and Embraer intend to seek “new business opportunities, including potential future customers of the Gripen, in Brazil and Latin America,” according to a Saab press release. Embraer will play a greater role in future Gripen contracts as a result and can support the growth of the Gripen E out to 2060 through inclusion on “engineering and technical future fighter studies.”

The fighter is assembled at Embraer’s facility in Gavião Peixoto, Brazil, and the partnership would “consolidat[e]” the technology transfer Saab is furnishing for the Brazilian defense industry as part of the Gripen program, according to the release.     

Embraer and Saab may already have an opportunity to test their new partnership with expanded Gripen orders for Brazil. The country has already funded production of 36 jets, but that initial order could be expanded to 40 with a possible second round for 30 or more fighters, Reuters reported

Collaboration on the C-390 will conversely afford Saab greater opportunities for similar contracts. According to a Saab press release, the two companies will explore integrating Saab-supplied equipment and systems into Embraer’s Millennium. 

The Millennium can haul 26 tons and fly at speeds up to 470 knots, the press release says. The tanker version, known as the KC-390, recently achieved full operational capability. According to a separate Reuters report, Austria is in talks with Embraer to buy four or five KC-390s, though a final decision has not been made.