A naval version of the SAAB Gripen-E/F for the Brazilian Navy might be a step closer. The fleet air arm of Latin America’s biggest country has decided to not continue with the modernisation program of its carrier-borne fighter fleet as planned.
The first of 12 upgraded McDonnell Douglas A-4BR Skyhawk – dubbed AF-1/A locally – is about to go back to the Aviação Naval Brasileira (AvN) in January 2015, months later than originally envisaged. Meanwhile the Brazilian Navy has cut its upgrading project with Embraer by more than 50 percent to about 50 million US dollars. Moreover, the new AF-1/As are not planned to be fully upgraded and combat ready in Autumn 2015, but rather in 2017.
This slow-down is fuel for hardcore rumours that the AvN might opt sooner for a navalised SAAB Gripen, largely built by Embraer, instead. According to the Swedish manufacturer the changes to the original SAAB design are fairly easy and quickly made to get the Sea Gripen working.
Already in November Brazil stated it might need 108 Gripens for its armed forces. The official, initial deal is for 36 Gripen-E/Fs for the Brazilian Air Force.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger