21 December 2013

Saab Wins Brazil's Fighter for Gripen NG by Turning Over Recipe to Special Sauce

It's been a long time coming, and through a number of odd twists and turns.

Earlier in the process, then Brazilian President Lula da Silva said that there was a deal with the French for the Dassault Rafale, largely for foreign policy reasons, but the defense establishment was fairly vehemently opposed to this, because of the much higher purchase and life cycle costs of the twin engine Rafale as compared to the single engine Gripen NG.

Still most of the stories seem to bury the lede:
Brazil has selected the Saab Gripen E/F for the 36 aircraft F-X2 requirement to replace its air force's older combat types.

With an acquisition cost in the region of $4.5 billion, the Gripens will replace the Dassault Mirage 2000C fighters operated by the 1st Air Defence Group and a number of the modernised Northrop F-5EMs in four other Air Force squadrons.

The long-awaited announcement was made on 18 December by Brazilian defence minister Celso Amorim and Brazilian air force Chief Gen Juniti Saito.

The decision was driven by aircraft performance, transfer of technology and low through-life costs, according to the officials.

Contract negotiation is expected to last between 10 and 12 months.

Saab has guaranteed the total transfer of technology of “all systems” including the weapons command software, which will allow future integration of Brazilian-developed missiles and weapons.
(Emphasis Mine)

Both the F/A-18 E/F and the Rafale software suites are far more tightly integrated,  and the software of the F-35 is even more tightly integrated, which makes it more difficult to modify to incorporate new systems.

Saab deliberately chose to put a firewall between flight critical and tactical software, meaning that crashing the latter won't crash the whole aircraft, which creates an easier upgrade and testing path.


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