France 'confident' Brazil will choose Rafale jets: source
France remains confident Brazil will announce it has chosen French-made Rafale fighter jets for its air force, an Elysee source said Tuesday, following talks here between the presidents of the two countries.
Brazil's "preference" for the Rafale "is expected to be confirmed soon," the French presidency source told AFP.
"But it's not for us to say, it is up to Brazil" to announce it, the source added.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with Brazil's leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Madrid on the sidelines of an EU-Latin America summit.
However, an advisor to Lula told journalists that the question of the Rafale purchase did not come up in the leaders' conversation.
The Rafale, made by Dassault, has yet to clinch a single overseas sale and is in competition with Sweden's Gripen NG by Saab and the F/A-18 Super Hornet manufactured by US giant Boeing.
The deal for 36 fighter planes is estimated to be worth between four and seven billion dollars, depending on details of armaments, maintenance and peripheral industrial involvement.
Brazil has made technology transfer the main priority in the tender, so it can produce fighter aircraft itself and boost its aviation industry.
Lula previously said the Rafale deal would be more advantageous in this respect for Brazil.
Sarkozy himself voiced confidence in a deal with Brazil last month when he also met with Lula on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in Washington.
© 2010 AFP