Latest News: Brazil Settles on Rafale After French Offer US$ 2 Billion Discount

French Rafale fighter Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has denied, his Justice minister also, but the Brazilian press is not buying the presidential assurances that the government still hasn’t decided what jet fighter to buy for its Air Force.

What most people seem to believe is that Brazil has agreed on a price to buy and assemble 36 Rafale fighter jets with French manufacturer Dassault after months of negotiations and ready to announce their purchase.

President Lula settled – even though he had apparently picked his choice on September 7 of last year when president Nicholas Sarkozy visited the country – on the Rafale after Dassault reduced the total price to US$ 6.2 billion from US$ 8.2 billion, Folha de S. Paulo reported. This and other similar reports have been denied by the Lula administration.

The other two contenders in the bidding process are the Gripen NG made by Sweden’s Saab and the F-18 made by the US-based Boeing. According to the Sao Paulo newspaper in spite of the 25% alleged discount the Rafale price tag would top Boeing’s 5.7 billion and Saab’s 4.5 billion.

The decision apparently was agreed during a meeting of President Lula with Defense minister Nelson Jobim, who last weekend stopped over in Paris on his return trip from Israel.

In France, according to Reuters, Dassault declined to comment.

Brazil’s Defense ministry said it still has not concluded a report on the bidding process detailing its recommendation for the president.

Brazil, the largest Latin American country and with the strongest economy, is seeking a generous technology transfer offer and local assembly. The deal could eventually rise to more than 100 aircraft.

Brazil has signed a strategic defense agreement with France worth billions of dollars, including the local assembly of helicopters and conventional and nuclear-powered submarine.

Lula had at least on two occasions anticipated he preferred the French offer in spite of the fact the Brazilian Air Force leaked a report saying the Swedish Gripen was the best choice given its low maintenance costs.

However one of the decisive factors, according to sources quoted by the newspaper, is that both Boeing and Saab have numerous US manufactured components which could in a future prevent Brazil’s sovereign decision to sell jet fighters to third countries.

In effect the US has impeded Brazil from selling its Super Tucano training aircraft to Venezuela precisely for that reason.



  • Show Comments (11)

  • hunh?

    yeah, now that I mentioned the idea of North-South cooperation, could you imagine in the future a united Americas as in an united EU? Yeah, we are far from that, but geographically and culturally we are very close and there are many parallels in our history (for better and worse). The US in the not too distant future will have a very large hispanic population and perhaps this will lead to greater and greater cooperation. Maybe this is something far from our life time. But it seems as plausible especially if we are able to come out of our narrow-minded mindset that sets us against other nations. The fraternity of all nations. That is what we should be working for, not just the self gain of our own nation.

  • hunh?

    Joao: I probably agree with much of what you say. I think it would be a great opportunity for Brazil to take a position on the worlds stage by aligning with the US, EU and now even to some extent Russia in considering economic sanctions against Iran. Yet, being non-aligned is a reasonable and practical strategy that seems generally wise for Brazil. But, hugging the Iranian dictator and sucking up to him to make a deal, in my eyes only degrades Brazil and Lula. As far as imposing the Shah goes, clearly that was a period when such machinations were considered acceptable, and the US relation with Iran has suffered the consequences for decades. Yet, from what I hear from the news and the few Iranians I have met in the US, Iranians are more intensely against the current Islamic regime than they are against the US. Many of the youth there listen to western music, and follow western trends and wish to live or study in the West or US.
    As far as France goes, you are telling me things I didn’t know: past sale of weapons, etc. I agree with you in questioning the need for such weapons when the money could be well spent on internal issues in Brazil: infrastructure, public schools, environmental cleanup, and a host of other social issues. I didn’t know France was lobbying for a seat for Brazil on the UNSC.
    Also, I don’t think Sarkozy is simply trying to suck up to the US. The French and the US have a long history of being allies, but they also have a delicate relation: it feels to me that French are also equally envious of the superpower status of the US, and sour grapes about losing their own colonial world leadership position. They are often ready to squabble with the US about trivial things. Recently Sarkozy complained bitterly when team of French doctors couldn’t fly into Haiti. The suggested that the US was occupying Haiti. Kind of silly. We have little to gain from Haiti strategically, but I guess the French are sensitive about Haiti as it was a jewel in their colonial empire that was lost. So I don’t see the French sucking up to the US. Obama is no George Bush. He is reaching out the the Europeans and the recent negotiations with Iran as opposed to a unilateral military mission which Bush and the Neo cons favored, is one important example of this change. This kind of stance alone won him the Nobel Prize, whether most think he deserves it is another thing. Sarkozy and the Europeans in general seem to see this about Obama and they are welcoming a more multi-lateral approach. I don’t know enough to say this with certainty, but I suspect that Lula and Brazil continue to view the US as a demonic hegemonic force. I read stories on this blog about the need for Brazil to have nuclear arms and be prepared for a US invasion to exploit its oil and the Amazon resources. What silly talk. We can’t even hold down Afghanistan without further bankrupting our coffers, how would we occupy Brazil. I looked forward to Obama having better relations with Brazil and South America, but I fear Brazilians are pumped up on their own hubris and delusions about their own position as a global leader, and unwilling to work together with the US. Lula seems to want to view the US as a soccer competitor: us against them, winer and losers. Instead, we should both meet with a certain humility that is required for cooperative ventures. I look forward to the day that the relation between North America and South America is more cooperative and in the interest of both continents.

  • João da Silva

    Kudos to the brave Iranian protestors

    [quote]By the way, I didn’t have any axe to grind with you. You seemed somewhat neutral and detached here, so I had no real objections to your comments. I just added some thoughts I had about Lula and Iran that this story inspired for me. I actually found yours and other comments here very informative about something I know little about (jet fighters). If I misunderstood you, I want to say desculpe.

    No need to apologize, as I think you understood me perfectly! To prove it you made the following statement!:

    [quote]Hence, I have to suspect that a a “strategic alliance” between the French and Brazil is another delusion Lula is suffering.[/quote]

    Regarding your statement:

    [quote]If Lula wants to strike an alliance with the French, it seems to me that he would do better to cut his relation with Iran, which is now a critical strategic target for Sarkozy.[/quote]

    I am not a big fan of Sarko and hope he terminates his “Strategic Alliance” with us, because of Lula´s continuing dealings with Iran. By doing it, he will be saving Billions of Euros for the Brasilian Tax Payers! I am not sure if you know that Sarko has sold Submarines and Choppers to us already. The problem with Sarko in relation to Iran is that he wants to project himself as a “Good Ally” of America in its fight against “Islamo-Fascists”. At the same time he wants to sell all kinds of Armaments to us. He cant have the proverbial cake and eat it too.

    My view on the Iranian “Tyrant”? Brasil didn’t impose Shah Reza Pallavi on the Iranians nor helped them to remove him. It is up to the Iranians to take measures to change the current “Regime”. We have plenty of internal problems to solve and would rather pursue our traditional policy of “non-alignment”. If Sarko gets upset , stops lobbying (if at all he is doing) for a permanent seat for us in the UNSC and terminates the “Strategic Alliance”, I am not going to lose my sleep.:D

  • Kudos to the brave Iranian protestors

    Joao: I didn’t mean to attribute the notion of “strategic alliance” to you, nor to doubt that this is what Lula hopes for, but as I said, I think he is on the wrong side of history and it is a shameful moment for the democratic loving Brazilians to witness him courting this brutal dictator. Maybe I am wrong, but money or no money, I think the EU as well as the US are put off by Lula’s alliance with Iran. Hence, I have to suspect that a a “strategic alliance” between the French and Brazil is another delusion Lula is suffering. If Lula wants to strike an alliance with the French, it seems to me that he would do better to cut his relation with Iran, which is now a critical strategic target for Sarkozy. Strangely, I once had immense respect for him, but this was the last straw for me. I don’t think I nor most Americans truly know about him, aside from some superficial image.

    Also, I believe that money alone does not motivate the French government: if it did, they could be making great deals with the Iranians. Instead, they are seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict and will next consider sanctions if Iran does not opt for the more diplomatic solution.
    By the way, I didn’t have any axe to grind with you. You seemed somewhat neutral and detached here, so I had no real objections to your comments. I just added some thoughts I had about Lula and Iran that this story inspired for me. I actually found yours and other comments here very informative about something I know little about (jet fighters). If I misunderstood you, I want to say desculpe.

  • João da Silva

    [quote]I also find it interesting that you (Joao da Silva) think this deal is more related to creating a “strategic alliance” with France.[/quote]

    Excuse me, it is [b][i]not[/i][/b] my thinking. I was merely quoting our President and the Minister of Defense!

    [quote]I suspect other democratically minded nations (including France) will view Brazil as less trustworthy in opposing repressive regimes[/quote]

    I do [i][b]not[/b][/i] think the “democratically minded nation of France” will view Brasil as less trustworthy “strategic alley”, as there is too much money to be made out of us!

  • Kudos to the brave Iranian protestors

    I am no expert on arms sales, nor on world relations, but i don’t see how Lula buying some old jets from France is going to form a some strategic alliance between Brazil and France. The French and the government of France have a strong aversion to illegitimate and brutal Iranian regime. I suspect France would be more impressed and aligned with Brazil, if Brazil supported sanctions against Iran, and spoke out against the atrocities being committed by this government. I was repulsed to see Lula laughing and hugging this dictator, while the memory of the years dictatorship of Brazil are still present and raw for many. Why doesn’t Lula and Brazilians see the contradiction in such an alliance? He should oppose Iran’s brutality not because there is some business or strategic alliance Brazil would benefit from and not because the US is against this regime, but simply because it is the right thing to do: speak out against oppression in whatever form it appears in the world. Also, if Brazil is really hungering to be an important relevant voice on the world stage, dealing with the devil will only further besmirch the integrity of Lula and Brazil, and not bring it closer to a seat on the UN. On Feb. 11, the opposition movement in Iran is calling for another massive rally and protest against the government. Recently the Iranian regime hung several people who participated in these protests which were against the rigged elections there. Lula in the past has said that these people are just like a bunch of disgruntled soccer fans who get rowdy and wild in streets. This characterization totally degrades the courageous acts of the Iranian people who are confronting the armed thugs of the regime, and fighting for a more just transparent and democratic government. This is a movement that should be celebrated and honored with other spontaneous grass roots movement protests and uprisings against tyrants and repression. Yet, on this issue, Brazil and Lula, seem blithely supporting a dictator. I suspect the next mass protest is going to be a very bloody affair, with many deaths and beatings. Yet I also suspect and hope that it will topple this regime. And when this happens, where will this leave Brazil in the aftermath? With egg on its face and on the wrong side of history! I suspect other democratically minded nations (including France) will view Brazil as less trustworthy in opposing repressive regimes, and more like China: willing to deal with the devil for the sake of making a business deal.

  • Kudos to the brave Iranian protestors

    strategic alliance with France?
    Well, I don’t know anything about fighter planes, so all the comments so far are fairly informative and interesting. I also find it interesting that you (Joao da Silva) think this deal is more related to creating a “strategic alliance” with France. I don’t read much at this site nor follow the politics of Brazil so much, but I am still surprised and disappointed about the recent alliance and deals being made by Lula, with Iran’s president Ahmadinejad. I was not surprised to hear Chavez or Morales making deals with Iran, but in the case of Brazil, I expected more. Opposition to the current regime and their nuclear arms mission is not just something that the US favors. EU nations are much closer to Iran and have more at stake in a nuclear armed Iran run by a war mongering, holocaust denying lunatic who is currently beating, torturing and murdering his own people for protesting rigged elections. The EU sees this clearly that this regime is a loose canon which could destabilize the region and the EU; hence they are speaking out against this oppressive regime. For example, German engineering conglomerate Siemens has rejected any further orders from Iran as new sanctions on Tehran are being considered. The French have been spearheading a unique campaign to sequester Iran’s uranium as a means for Iran to show it is not interested in developing nuclear weapons, yet Brazil and Lula seem to be lining up to make some business deals with Iran, which seems to be sinking further and further into a shameful and discredited state. At this very moment, the Iranian people are courageously mounting one of the greatest efforts in recent decades to topple a fiercely repressive regime. Most democratically minded nations are moving against this regime. Even Russia, not exactly the poster-child of democracies, has grown disenchanted with Iran, and is more willing to impose sanctions. On the other hand, China Inc, which resembles more of a supercharged fascist corporate state than a democracy, has always been willing to sell weapons to tyrants and overlook and repressive actions of a government so long as they can make business deal, so this is not surprise either. Yet Brazil and Lula, with a long tradition of opposing dictators, as well as many progressive grass roots political movements that naturally are aligned with democratic practices, seems to be way off course with this alliance with Iran. They seemed to be blinded by some adolescent-like desire to thumb their nose at the US, without really seeing that it’s just plain wrong to deal with these people, regardless of whatever the US thinks.

  • João da Silva

    [quote]Also, I wonder why the Brazil Air Force is buying carrier based aircraft? [/quote]

    Correction Cap´n. The Brasilian Air Force (FAB) does [i][b]not[/b][/i] want to buy this aircraft. Their preference is for GRIPEN and they came out with a 2000 page [b][i]technical[/i][/b] report listing the order of their preference. Their [i][b]second[/b][/i] choice is F-18. However, our political leadership wants to buy it to seal an ever lasting “Strategic Alliance” with France.

    BTW, the boss of our FAB is a fighter pilot and seems to think the same way as you do about the deployment of right aircraft depending on our defense needs.

  • Capnamerca

    The Rafale is somehwat smaller, lighter, with less engine, carries a lighter payload, and less fuel. Which is the best? Which one has proven itself in battle? And which plane do most Air Forces prefer? So far the Rafale has got a perfect record of failure to secure an export order. The latest rejection coming from Norway. Why has no other country purchased this airplane?

    Also, I wonder why the Brazil Air Force is buying carrier based aircraft? I was an airman on an aircraft carrier for several years, and this is strictly an offensive operation, not defensive. Land based aircraft are normally used for defensive purposes.

  • jc

    greeeeaaaat news
    The idea of Brazil being able to build and customize its own fighter jets using Embraer’s labor force and infrastructure could certainly reduce the price of the Rafale to competitive levels anywhere in the world. Brazil is not concerned with Venezuela “Su-30s… Brazil’s concerns comes from much higher latitudes.;-)

  • Ric

    Bringing Joy to the French
    This plane is what, twenty-plus years old? Brazil would be the very first nation to order it, except for France itself.

    Which makes the idea that Brazil will buy it, learn to make their own fighter using its technology, and then sell it to other countries seem far-fetched. How old would the design be by then, and why has no other country ordered Rafales from Dassault itself? Does Brazil need carrier jets? How would it stack up against potential Venezuelan Su-30s?

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