Brazil’s Rousseff Grounds Fighter Choice Until Economy Takes Off
By Dialogo December 13, 2012
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff tied the decision on a fighter jet in a deal worth billions of dollars to the country’s economy picking up.
“We have pushed back the choice… and this will take some time depending on how long it takes the Brazilian economy to recover,” Rousseff said at a joint press conference with her French counterpart Francois Hollande.
Brazil is looking to buy 36 multi-purpose jets to modernize its air force in a contract valued at between $4 billion and $7 billion.
The Rafale fighter, built by French firm Dassault Aviation, is up against the US aviation giant Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and Swedish manufacturer Saab’s Gripen.
Brazil, which boasts the world’s sixth-largest economy, began considering buying a new fighter model several years ago, but Rousseff said the government had postponed making a decision in the face of a sharp economic slowdown.
The Brazilian economy rose 2.7 percent last year, sharply down from a sizzling 7.5 percent in 2010.
“We are waiting for growth at a higher rate that will permit us to make this project a priority again,” said Rousseff.
She said there were signs that growth was picking up “but we still have to be careful about extraordinary expenditures.”
The early favorite was the Rafale, but Brasília finds it too expensive and has been pressing for a better price. Paris has offered full technology transfers in its bid to win the contract.
Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet is cheaper, but Brazilian officials are wary of Washington’s possible use of technology restrictions.