US and Sweden Sweeten Deal While Brazil Seems Prone to Buy French Fighter Jets

Sweden's Gripen NGBrazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and not Brazil’s Air Force will determine which contractor to pick for a US$ 4.4 billion order for 36 fighter jets. That’s the message from Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim for the second day in row.

His comments come after a report in Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo said that Brazil’s Air Force favors a Swedish competitor to French defense contractor Dassault’s Rafale fighter jet because the French option is “too expensive”.

The Rafale is estimated at double the cost of a Gripen fighter, Tuesday’s report in Folha de S. Paulo said. Brazil’s Air Force would not confirm the report. Sweden’s Gripen NG, made by Saab AB, and US-based Boeing F-18 Super Hornet are also in the running for the contract.

“Sometimes the engineers have one opinion but many times cheap things end up being expensive, so one has to think about this too,” Amorim told journalists in Paris before a lunch with French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s diplomatic adviser, Jean-David Levitte.

“The process is not finished and will only finish once the president makes his decision,” Amorim said.

A final decision on the order for 36 fighters had been expected last year, with the first deliveries set for 2014. It was not clear when the announcement might be forthcoming.

French Defense minister Hervé Morin also downplayed reports about the Gripen and said that the French offer includes technological transfer which “would make Brazil an industrial platform for the rest of Latin America”.

Morin also recalled that the Brazilian decision will be “political” and that the two countries have established a strategic alliance that already includes the supply of helicopters and submarines, including a nuclear powered submersible.

President Lula and his French peer Nicolas Sarkozy have an excellent relation: Sarkozy traveled to Brazil last September when both leaders issued a joint statement opening Brazil’s official negotiations to buy 36 Rafales.

While the statement did not mean an end to the tender process, Rafale is seen as the favorite to get the deal and because the French bid for technology transfer.

Meanwhile, Saab and Boeing are continuing to fiercely advertise their own jets. Boeing has reportedly lowered the price tag for its F/A-18 Super Hornet. Sweden promised that 40% of the ordered jets would be built in Brazil and that the Brazilian Air Force would get full access to the technology used in the Gripen NG.

The multi-role aircraft is equipped with a General Electric F414G engine and an active electronically scanned array radar system. Observers nevertheless see the French winning.



  • Show Comments (4)

  • João da Silva

    [quote]The Air Force have studied the issues.[/quote]

    Surely they know what they are talking about. One must remember that our FAB boss is a qualified fighter pilot and has flown all kinds of planes. Their recommendation was based on Technical/Economical analysis.

    [quote]They are not children in need of correction… but perhaps the politicians are. [/quote]

    100% in agreement. Perhaps the politicians need some spanking like the children do once in a while? 😉

  • Jacobus

    Who is looking out for Brazil’s air defense?
    I agree with both the previous posters. The politicians are leaning toward the worst of the available deals because Sarkozy makes it sound good. The Boeing F/A-18 is a proven platform made in the same hemisphere; SAAB’s Gripen would offer the most for the money and many would be built locally which would help employment in both countries. France is offering nothing in their deal that SAAB isn’t.
    The Air Force have studied the issues. They are not children in need of correction… but perhaps the politicians are.

  • João da Silva

    [quote]Maybe France doesn’t like a new tariff or maybe they want favorable trade concessions, so they hold up needed shipments of parts or upgraded technology. This sadly is a fact that many countries have learned the hard way.[/quote]

    Saddam Hussein learned it [i][b]extremely[/b][/i] the hard way! Wasn’t the Iraqi Air Defense System supplied by the French who were happy to furnish all the source codes to neutralize it to their American and British “allies”?

    “Dusty” has made some very interesting observations including on B2 bombers. However, I think that the final winner will be Dassault which is counting on this sale to save itself from going bankrupt. This contract is also bound to arrest the declining popularity of Sarko among his own people and rest of Europe.

  • dusty

    Of course it is ‘Political’
    Why on earth would Lula want to pay attention to engineers or even the Brazilian Air Force? To think that they might actually know more then him or have an idea of which jet would be best for the nation’s defense. I mean that kind of thinking is just absurd! 😮

    Sarcasm aside, this is just another lesson in the fact that Lula is off his rocker. It is no secret that the French have been working very hard to increase their role as a global arms dealer. The problem is the Rafale platform sucks. France is the sole operator of the plane and can’t for the life of them convince any other country to buy it, till now. If Lula was truly a smart man, he would leave the decision to the Air Force and leave politics out of the equation, as this is a matter of Brazilian National Defense. Who better to make this kind of decision than the people who will be actually flying the plane and maintaining it for the next 30 years.

    Besides it is a terrible idea to purchase all of your hardware from the same source. The reason being is it gives that sole supplier leverage over Brazil and that leverage can be used to influence politics. Maybe France doesn’t like a new tariff or maybe they want favorable trade concessions, so they hold up needed shipments of parts or upgraded technology. This sadly is a fact that many countries have learned the hard way.

    The Gripen and the F-18 are both proven platforms, both are being operated by other countries and have solid combat records. The Defense minister pointed out that the Gripen is too cheap, he made the analogy that less expensive items can cost more over time. That maybe true with a say a washer/dryer but these are military jets, not household appliances.

    In truth most first world military’s are working on developing cheaper and more cost effective combat platforms over the historical bloated programs. Perfect example, the US B-2 Spirit bomber. Originally when it was ordered, they planned for 200 bombers. The US Congress cut the number to 32 out of 200. That drove the price up to US$1.2 billion per plane. Let me repeat that for effect, each one cost $1.2 billion, that is with a B.

    What did they get for that kind of money? Well they found out that when the plane got wet, it’s radar cross section ballooned from the size of a sparrow to that of a flying version of Pyramids of Giza. Yep, not so stealthy during a rain storm. Granted they fixed that problem with a different kind of paint, but at added cost to a plane that was already too expensive. $32 billion on a plane that hardly get’s used and is not really a deterrent as the Cold War is over.

    The point is, just because it has a big price tag, doesn’t mean it is better. These kinds of mistakes have been made time and time again, it would be nice if political leaders would take a step back and actually learn from those mistakes. If they did, they would save a lot of money and provide the level of protection that the people who put them in office deserve.

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