Argentina wants 24 Gripen NG “USAN”

Gripen test platform NG with new droptanks . Photo by Stefan Kalm/ Saab.

Gripen test platform NG with new droptanks . Photo by Stefan Kalm/ Saab.

Days away from the second round of the Brazilian Presidential elections the government manages to sign an aerospace industrial co-operation agreement with Argentina. This includes the intention of the southern neighbors to buy 24 Saab Gripen NG fighters. That is to say the Gripen that is to be produced to 80 percent on Brazilian soil. This raises the dilemma if increased sharing can lead to boosted vending and occupation.

The contract for the Brazilian acquisition of 36 Gripen NG is to be signed by December and one of the main reasons that Brazil chose the Swedish fighter is the almost total transference of technology. In return, the South American giant spoke of great expansion possibilities for Saab on both the Latin American market as well as other allied nations, such as the other BRICS-countries. Accordingly, Argentina might just be the first in line to a large-scale expansion, or perhaps inclusion.

The reason that the Defense Ministers had gotten together on Tuesday (October, 21st) in the interior of the state of São Paulo was to celebrate the launch of the cargo plane KC-390. The aircraft was projected by the Brazilian Armed Forces and produced by the national aeronautics company Embraer in cooperation with Argentina, Portugal and the Czech Republic.

 

The Defense Ministers of Argentina and Brazil, Agustín Rossi and Celso Amorim, signing the agreement of expansion of joint projects in the aeronautical sector.

The Defense Ministers of Argentina and Brazil, Agustín Rossi and Celso Amorim, signing the agreement of expansion of joint projects in the aeronautical sector.

“The investments made to produce the KC-390 pieces in the Argentinian factory in Córdoba were fundamental to revitalize the aeronautics industry in our country”, the Argentinian Defense minister Agustín Rossi declared at the event.

Hopes of shared production

In the press release that the Brazilian government issued it is stated that ”the conditions for the acquisition, as well as the possible Argentinian participation of the production of these planes, will be detailed during the following months, between representatives from both countries.”

The expectations in Argentina have sky rocketed with the news. Having an updated aerospace industry and a successful collaboration with Brazil in a moment of deep economic crisis creates hope. Both in media and aerospace industrial forums online Argentinians are discussing how this might be the beginning of a Gripen NG “USAN” (The Union of South American Nations/ Spanish: Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, UNASUR) where not only Brazil and Argentina might be co-producers in developing Saab’s fighter, but maybe even more of the sister nations around the continent.

On the other hand, it was quite a large leap for the Swedish Defense and Security company Saab to agree to the technology transfer demanded by Brazil. “Perhaps the technology can be considered “open” with the contract that is to be signed and therefore it might be eligible to spread. However, I do not believe that the transfer will continue over to Argentina. The Swedish and Brazilian Alliance should be sufficient to simply sell the fighters to third-party buyers” according to Oscar Jansson PhD-Candidate at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, in an interview with Cecilia Vaccari.

Political advantages

The Brazilian Defense Minister, Celso Amorim underlined that “These last 12 years with Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva and Néstor Kirchner as Presidents, and later Dilma Rousseff and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, have been the most fruitful in the bilateral relationship.”

Undoubtedly, the agreement between the two countries implies in expanded industries, work for the people as well as appropriation and exchange of new technology. As a bonus it might just give President Dilma Rousseff the lift she needs to defeat her rival in the elections on Sunday (October 26th). In light of the bad finances in the country she needs to prove to the Brazilians that she can in fact offer a bright future. Maybe it will even save President Kirchner from her all time low popularity figures before it is time for the Argentinian elections in a year from now. But if both strike out and the plans are dropped, they will without a doubt take the Saab stock with them in the plunge.

 

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