Obsessed with increasing the number of Saab Gripen fighters, the current Commander of the Brazilian Air Force, Brigadeiro Baptista Junior, ended the STOUT program, a hybrid utility turboprop that had been conceived in partnership with Embraer.
In a meeting with journalists on Monday, Baptista Junior said that the cancellation of the project, which would give rise to a replacement for the old Bandeirante in service for almost 50 years, was motivated by budget constraints.
The pretext is the same used to reduce the order of KC-390 aircraft, also from Embraer. The head of the service, who took over just over a year ago, wanted to cut the order of 28 jets in half, but ended up agreeing to the elimination of six planes
Funds for the programs, which focus on national integration and optimization of Air Force logistics, will be used to purchase more F-39 Gripen fighter jets.
The plans are to acquire a new batch of at least 26 Saab jets, which would bring the total number of aircraft to 66 units. This will allow the establishment of a second air base for the Gripen, in addition to Anápolis. Possibly, Santa Cruz, in Rio de Janeiro, where the oldest FAB air fighter groups are located.
Baptista Junior also revealed another strategic change in the Gripen program, the end of production of the two-seat version, the F-39F, in Brazil. Originally, the eight fighters would be manufactured at Embraer’s Gavião Peixoto plant. Now the project is for the single-seat F-39E models to be produced in Brazil, given the greater number of aircraft of this model.
An Air Force initiative, the STOUT project was the reason for an agreement with Embraer that would give rise to an advanced aircraft capable of operating with a more efficient and ecological propulsion system.
Computer-generated images presented by Baptista Junior’s predecessor, Brigadier Antonio Carlos Moretti Bermudez, in December 2020, revealed an aircraft with a configuration similar to the KC-390, but equipped with four engines, two of them apparently turboprops and two electric ones installed on the wing tips.
Also according to Bermudez, the STOUT, an acronym for “Short Take Off Utility Transport”, would be able to operate on short and semi-prepared runways, could carry three tons of payload or 30 soldiers and would fly for up to 2,425 km. without refueling.