Brazil picks Rafale for French ‘strategic alliance’

 - February 19, 2010, 4:26 AM

Brazil’s purchase of 36 new fighters has pitted the air force’s preference for the Saab Gripen, backed by a 10-month technical report, against a presidential preference for the Dassault Rafale as part of a “strategic alliance” with France. Second in the air force’s ranking was the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet. According to the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, France reduced the cost of the Rafale package from $12.2 billion to $8.2 billion. The Gripen NG had been offered for $6 billion, and the F-18 for $7.7 billion. The packages include the airplanes, weapons, maintenance over 30 years, logistics and technological transfer, the last to Embraer.

The Air Force’s choice took into account the lower cost per flight hour of the single-engine Gripen; the expectation of greater Brazilian technical participation in a project still under development; and, according to the paper, a prediction that over the lifetime of the new fighter its costs will come out of the air force’s budget. A recent American veto of a sale to Venezuela of Embraer Tucano trainers, which incorporate American technology, counted against Boeing.

While the government claims no final decision has been taken, more than $12 billion in military agreements have already been signed with France.