GDDN Gripen's technology centre in Brazil

A small city in São Paulo state with a little more than 4,000 people, Gavião Peixoto welcomed in 2016 the Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN), the focal point of the technology transfer between the Swedes and Brazilians. It is there, in sunny São Paulo state, that Saab and Embraer improve and innovate defence technology and security for Brazil, along with the other partners in the Brazilian Gripen programme.

GDDN was opened in Gavião Peixoto in November 2016. It is tasked to be the central axis of much of the technological development by Saab and Embraer for the new Brazilian jet fighter, along with other Brazilian companies and partner institutions. "The opening of GDDN is an important milestone in the Brazilian Gripen programme, as it will be the base for technology transfer and the development of fighters in the country. Our commitment to Brazil is long term," says Håkan Buskhe, CEO and President of Saab.

The technology transfer happens through a team that, by the end of 2017, had 90 Brazilians and 20 Swedes. This 110-people team could grow to 280 engineers and technicians dedicated to development of the new fighter aircraft.

GDDN is the materialisation of a grand project between Brazil and Sweden. The Brazilian Gripen programme will provide significant autonomy in logistics support for the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), including independence in maintenance and the integration of weapons and systems, representing a major improvement in FAB capabilities for aircraft development.

GDDN provides secure connections between Saab in Sweden and its industrial partners in Brazil, which enables the joint execution of Gripen's development, testing and verification, and support system projects. "This type of experience adds to the careers of everyone involved because of the interaction they have with other professionals from different cultures. This direct connection with Sweden creates an easier decision-making flow and drives the development of Gripen. It is a unique opportunity to take part in the development cycle for a jet fighter for Brazil," says Felipe Langellotti Silva, an Embraer product development engineer.

In addition to the development of Gripen E (single-seat), most of Gripen F's (twin-seat) development is being done at GDDN by Brazilian engineers, with the support of Saab. Gripen F is being initially developed exclusively for FAB. Of the 36 aircraft acquired by Brazil, eight will be twin-seaters. In future GDDN will also have a Flight Testing Centre with state-of-the-art equipment. " GDDN is a legacy, an asset that stays for the Brazilian Air Force. I want to see the first Gripen flight here in Gavião Peixoto," says Santosh Miadaira Hamza, Gripen programme manager at Embraer.

The transfer of technology applied to the Brazilian Gripen programme needs specialised professionals and encourages Brazil to enhance its research and development programmes in the aviation industry. "Acquiring all this technology means that the industry is prepared to support FAB in the operation of Gripen," says Guilherme Lariu, a structural calculation engineer at Embraer.