Saab AB May Move Jetfighter Production To Brazil

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- Swedish aerospace and defense firm Saab AB said on Wednesday it was prepared to move a big part of its Gripen jet fighter production to Brazil if it wins a lucrative deal to sell the plane to the Brazilian air force.

Bob Kemp, marketing director at Saab's Gripen International unit, said the company has offered to set up around 50 percent of its design, development, production and manufacturing operations in Brazil should it win the order.

Brazil is considering a first purchase of 36 fighter jets from Saab, Boeing Co., or France's Dassault SA to revamp its air force, though over the longer term it is expected to buy more than 100 planes.

Kemp said the initial order could be worth more than $3 billion and would be a "very exciting opportunity" for Gripen, whose biggest export order so far is the sale of 26 aircraft to South Africa in 2008.

He said production agreements is a normal feature in big defense contracts and that he expects other bidders to make similar offers.

"It's a buyer's market," he said.

Gripen submitted its offer to Brazil on June 12. Kemp said he expects a decision from the Latin American country toward the end of August.

Associated Press Writer Louise Nordstrom in Stockholm contributed to this report.