Brazil buys Saab fighter, shooting down French hopes
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Swedish aerospace maker Saab beat competition from France's Dassault and US aviation giant Boeing to win a $5 billion contract to equip the Brazilian air force with 36 new fighter jets (pictured), the Brazilian defence minister announced Wednesday.
"After analyzing all the facts, President Dilma Rousseff directed me to inform that the winner of the contract for the acquisition of the 36 fighter jets for the Brazilian Air Force is the Swedish Gripen NG," Defense Minister Celso Amorim told a press conference.
The announcement came after more than 10 years of discussions and repeated delays due to budgetary constraints.
The Gripen is said to be cheaper than either Dassault’s Rafale or Boeing's F/A-18. It is a state-of-the-art multi-role fighter jet capable of performing an extensive range of air-to-air, air-to-surface and reconnaissance missions. It is in use in the air forces of Britain, South Africa, the Czech Republic, Thailand and Hungary.
Brazil insisted on technology transfers so that the planes can be assembled locally and give a boost to the domestic defence industry.
President Rousseff had postponed a decision on the FX-2 replacement contract in early 2011 for budgetary reasons but Brazilian air force chiefs insisted they needed the new fighter aircraft to maintain an adequate air defence. The air force is to retire its 12 Mirage jets in late December.
Brazil bought the refurbished Mirage 2000 C/Bs from France in 2005 for $80 million to fly for five years.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)