Transitioning into a Gripen Nation

In a detailed interview by Tecnologia & Defesa (tecnodefesa), Lt. Gen. Luiz Fernando de Aguiar, who is currently FAB's Preparation Commander (COMPREP), talks about the process and preparation that has been undergoing for the arrival of the Gripen fighters.

Here are some ways in which the FAB, under the command of General Fernando, is preparing so that the aircraft is ready from the moment it lands in its home base.

Making the most of Gripen’s STOL capabilities
Gripen's STOL (Short Take-off and Landing) capabilities are well known. The fighter was developed and designed to take-off and land on small strips of roads at dispersed air bases. The FAB will not leave any stone unturned when it comes to making the most of this capability. According to General Fernando, the FAB has made a complete survey and has identified over 300 aerodromes across the country on which Gripen will be able to operate.

"They include airstrips, airports and military bases that cover the entire national territory," he tells Tecnodefesa. The FAB is further looking into the possibilities of operation on highways for landing, refuelling and re-arming of the aircraft. "This capacity will enable the usage of the national territory which may not have sufficient aerodromes to conduct air operations. In addition to contributing to the stealth of operations, it becomes quite difficult for an opponent to locate and neutralize the base of operations in such cases," he says.

Preparing for Gripen’s full operational capability
FAB is also expected to attain Gripen's full operational capability or FC (Full Capability) by 2025, and the basic capability (BC) by 2021. The first Gripen E which was delivered to Brazil last September, allowed the FAB to start the joint test and verification phase of the aircraft along with the initial training of pilots and technicians. This is a part of the "development package" which was agreed upon by Saab and Brazil in order to ensure that the final product is tailor-made for the operational needs of the FAB. 

Additionally, receiving Gripen's full capability will mean that the FAB will have the final and tested systems integrated and ready to be operational. "Gripen must be seen not only as an aircraft, but as a combat platform that has various sensors, equipment and armaments," General Fernando says. "All these systems must operate in an integrated manner to fulfil a particular mission," he adds.

Preparing the pilots
The training of the pilots is a very important part of the programme and has been laid out in a way that the selected pilots are ready by the time Gripen is fully operational. General Fernando explains that a rigorous process went behind the selection of Gripen pilots where all operational performance of the pilots was evaluated. 

"They will move to Sweden in three groups of four pilots each, starting January 2021. They will stay in Sweden for 5 months for a course in Gripen C/D followed by a theoretical and simulator course in Brazil," General Fernando says.

The preparation also involves upgrading the hangars, the open sheds, the administrative building and the operational building where the pilots and maintenance staff will stay.

“Initially, all Brazilian Gripens will be based at Wing 2, in Anápolis,” General Fernando says.

Read the full interview here.