No Timetable Set for Brazil to Buy Fighter Jets -Official
(Source: Dow Jones; published Jan. 20, 2011)
Brazil’s new president has ordered a review of the FX-2 fighter competition, in which France’s Rafale was until now seen as the leading contender. (Dassault photo)
SAO PAULO --- Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff hasn't set any specific timetable to decide on the acquisition of fighter aircraft, a spokeswoman for the president told Dow Jones on Thursday.

"Due to the fact that President Rousseff assumed the office only recently, she still needs time to evaluate the question, but so far there is no timetable for a decision," said the spokeswoman, who declined to be named. Rousseff took office Jan. 1.

According to local newspaper Folha de S. Paulo (see below—Ed.), Rousseff has decided to postpone the decision to acquire fighter aircraft to 2012, mainly in order to reduce government expenditure. The report cited an unnamed source close to the government.

Local media have reported that the Rafale war plane, produced by France's Dassault Aviation SA, is heavily favored by the Brazilian government. The Rafale jets are competing against the Gripen NG produced by Sweden's Saab AB and Boeing Co.'s F/A-18 Super Hornet. (ends)

Dilma Pushes Fighter Purchase for the Air Force into 2012
(Source: Folha de Sao Paulo; published Jan. 20, 2011)
(Published in Portuguese; unofficial translation by
BRASILIA --- Because of concerns about the current economic situation and doubts about the best choice, President Dilma Rousseff has decided that the purchase of new Brazilian fighters will be decided later this year, but that any related expenditure will be made only from 2012.

With the government mulling spending cuts of around 40 billion reals, and the trauma caused by the catastrophe in Rio, it would be politically difficult for the government to decide on such a purchase now that austerity is the policy keyword.

The planned purchase of 36 fighters will not cost less than 10 billion reals. It will be financed, but will require a hefty down payment. President Dilma Roussef has decided to gather more information. Her predecessor, former President Lula, had left the fighter process in the hands of Defense Minister Nelson Jobim.

In addition to having made a point of consulting Air Force commander Gen. Juniti Saito during a private, one-on-one meeting, she also provided related documents to the Minister of Development, her close associate Fernando Pimentel.

Dilma also wants to consult sectors outside of government, primarily Embraer, and set up an inter-ministerial group to review the fighter acquisition and re-evaluate the arguments made by the air force, which favors the Swedish Gripen NG, and the ministry of defense, which favors France’s Rafale.

Negotiations on prices are likely to begin only once one of the three competitors is selected -- the third is the Boeing F-18E Super Hornet -- and there is no possibility of reopening the tender to other competitors.

The delay confirms the weakened position of the France’s Dassault Rafale, which was the preferred candidate of Lula and Jobim. The French fighter came last in the air force’s evaluation and is the most expensive of the three, with a price tag of about 8 billion US dollars (today worth 13.3 billion reals). However, Jobim says that he obtained a price reduction of 2 billion dollars.

This means that chances have improved for the cheapest option, the Saab Gripen NG, which was ranked first in the air force’s technical evaluation; its package carries a price tag of about 6 billion US dollars (10 billion reals).

And heavy lobbying by the US government and Boeing appear to have put the F-18E Super Hornet back in the running; with related weapons and logistics, it is being offered for 7.7 billion dollars. (12.9 billion reals).

Dilma was personally lobbied by U.S. Senator John McCain last week. She told him that the Super Hornet would be considered if there was a clear commitment that the U.S. Congress would not veto the transfer of technology and of fighter components. Sen. McCain undertook to obtain a written Congressional commitment. Congress has approved Boeing’s proposal to Brazil, but it may wield vetoes in the future.

The biggest loser in the process, however, is Jobim, who had sought a quick decision on the fighters. He advocates pursuing the already established partnership with France, which has sold submarines and helicopters worth over 20 billion reals in 2009.


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