Rousseff Will Reconsider Bids for Purchase of Military Jets

By Dialogo
January 18, 2011

The president of Brazil has decided to postpone awarding a contract for the purchase of military jets and reevaluate the bids by the finalists, a decision that could indicate a realignment of the country’s strategic alliances, sources familiar with the issue told Reuters.

The measure is a surprise because Dilma Rousseff’s predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, several times expressed his preference for the bid by the French firm Dassault to build at least thirty-six of its Rafale jets, generating speculation that the final announcement was only a formality.

Nevertheless, Lula left office on 1 January without having resolved the issue, leaving the decision to Rousseff, his former cabinet chief.

Rousseff decided to reopen the evaluation process and does not have a clear favorite at this point, a high-ranking administration source said.

“It’s her decision now (…) and she wants to analyze the details carefully,” said the source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

The other finalists in the competition for the contract, expected to be worth at least four billion dollars, are the Swiss firm Saab with its Gripen NGs and the F-18s of the U.S. firm Boeing Co.

Last week, Rousseff personally asked U.S. senators visiting her country for additional guarantees from the U.S. Congress with regard to technology transfer, in order to improve Boeing’s bid, sources with knowledge of the conversation said.