Brazil To Decide Fighter Jet Buy At Start Of 2010: Lula
By Dialogo December 14, 2009Brazil is to decide the winner of a seven-billion-dollar contest to supply it with 36 high-tech fighter jets in the beginning of 2010, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said. The choice is between France's Rafale, the F/A-18 Super Hornet by US group Boeing, and an NG Gripen by Sweden's Saab. Lula told defense chiefs in an end-of-year lunch that "we should make the decision at the start of 2010." The Rafale, an omnirole fighter made by Dassault, is seen leading the pack since Lula and French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced jointly in September that Brazil was negotiating to buy the delta-winged aircraft. If that intent to purchase is confirmed, it will be the first export sale of the Rafale, possibly making it more attractive to other potential buyers Switzerland and India. But Saab and Boeing are fighting fiercely to land the Brazilian contract, reportedly slashing prices to do so. Lula's government has said the deal is not yet done with Dassault. It is waiting on a Brazilian air force evaluation of the three contenders, though the president has stressed that the final decision is his, and will be based on political and strategic considerations. The priority for Brazil is to acquire technology through the purchase so it can end up with the capability to build its own 21st-century fighters.