(Source: Brazilian Air Force via Ministry of Defense; issued Jan. 5, 2010)
(Issued in Portuguese; unofficial translation by defense-aerospace.com)
In reference to material published in the press, the [Brazilian Air Force Command Media] Center states that the Air Force Command, through the Management Committee of the F-X2 Project (GPF-X2), has completed the final report on the technical analysis of competing aircraft.
To date, said report has not been forwarded to the Ministry of Defense.
The Air Force Command also emphasizes that the technical analysis report remains founded on the evaluation of the business, technical, operational, logistical, industrial and commercial compensation (offset) and technology transfer [of the competing offers].
Brigadier (Air Force) Antonio Carlos Bermudez Moretti
Commander, Air Force Command Media Center (CECOMSAER)
Brazilian Air Force Recommends Purchase of Gripen NG, the Least Expensive Finalist of the FX-2 Competition
(Source: Folha de San Paolo; published Jan. 5, 2009)
(Issued in Portuguese only; unofficial translation by defense-aerospace.com)
SAO PAOLO, Brazil --- The French Dassault Rafale fighter was rated in third and last place in the technical report that the Brazilian Air Force Command submitted to Defense Minister Nelson Jobim on the project FX-2 fleet renewal program.
The Gripen NG, offered by Sweden’s Saab, ranked first in the evaluation, and the F-18 Super Hornet offered by US-based Boeing came second.
The result will constrains the government and further delay the final decision on the proposed purchase of 36 new combat aircraft, by opposing the pro-Swedish technical evaluation of the Air Force to the political and diplomatic preference given by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to the offer presented by the French.
The decision in favor of Rafale was even announced in a joint statement signed by Presidents Lula and Nicolas Sarkozy last September, but the Brazilian government soft-pedaled after the strong political backlash which emerged because the air force had not completed the technical evaluation of the competitors.
Now the government is at an impasse: either over-rules the air force, and buys the Rafale, or its risks French anger by following the air force’s recommendations and buying the Gripen NG. Formally, the President is free to choose any of the three.
According to Folha, the "executive summary" of the report of FAB with the final conclusions of more than 30,000 pages of data, pointed to the financial factor as decisive for tanking the Gripen NG in first place. Gripen NG is single-engined and is still in the design phase although based on the current Gripen, and it is the cheapest of the three final competitors.
The difference in price is as much on cost of the aircraft as on the cost of its maintenance. Saab says it offered the Gripen NG at half the price of the Rafale, or about US $ 70 million per unit. It also says that its cost per flight hour is one-fourth of the Rafale’s, which Dassault disputes: as the Rafale has two engines, it is admittedly more expensive to operate, but would also perform better.
The Brazilian air force, which would bear these costs during the 30-year life of the aircraft, considers this a priority issue.
The technology transfer issue also weighed on the air force’s recommendation. The Gripen NG is still in the development phase, and in theory this offers greater access to its technologies for future business partners, such as Embraer. Saab promised to locate final production in Brazil, but Dassault has also offered it for the Rafale. The problem, the air force said, is that the Rafale is a finished product, which would presumably allow only a lower rate of transfer of production know-how.
The report of the FAB did not consider as negative the fact that the Swedish aircraft is single-engined, as in modern aircraft that is seen as a minor problem in the incidence of accidents.
The Rafale had three major obstacles, according to the air force’s evaluation:
1) Its price is considered prohibitive, despite what French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised Lula.
2) The promised transfer of technology was considered lacking in ambition by Brazil. This is a "finished product", which would be difficult for Brazil to sell to other countries.
3) Embraer, consulted by the Air Force, said that if the Rafale was chosen it would have no interest in participating in the project because it would gain very little in terms of technology and business.
The evaluation report was prepared by COPAC (Coordinating Committee for the Combat Aircraft Program) and ratified by the High Command of the Air Force on December 18.
Jobim returned to Brasilia last night ready to meet with the Air Force commander, Brigadier Juniti Saito. Officially, to gain time, the government’s position is that the FAB has not handed in the document.
The minister already knew the outcome from a trip he took with Saito as China and Ukraine at the end of the year. The two used a layover in Paris to discuss the issue with the president of COPAC, Brigadier Dirceu Tondolo Noro, who, according to Folha, was called to meet them in the French capital at very short notice.
The Brazilian procurement is one of the major acquisition programs in the world, and may exceed 10 billion Brazilian reals.
In an interview with Folha in December, Jobim admitted that he had intervened to change the rules of the COAPC report, but without acknowledging that his intention was to prevent the air force from selecting an aircraft that would have displeased the Planalto (Brazil’s Presidential residence—Ed.)