French minister backs Rafale for Brazilian air force

15th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

French Secretary of State for Defence travels to Rio De Janeiro to show support for Rafale who is vying to win a multi-billion-dollar air force contract with Brazil against Boeing and Saab Grippen

RIO DE JANEIRO – French Secretary of State for Defence Jean-Marie Bockel made a short visit to Brazil Tuesday to back the French-made multi-role fighter aircraft Rafale for purchase by the Brazilian air force.

France's Dassault Aviation, Boeing of the United States and Saab Grippen of Sweden are currently vying to win the multi-billion-dollar contract to supply Brazil with dozens of multi-role combat aircraft to replace its aging Mirage jets.

Bockel visited LAAD, Latin America's biggest aerospace and defence trade show, where some 300 exhibitors from 39 countries have been participating since Tuesday.

Brazil plans to make an initial purchase of 36 aircraft for USD 2.2 billion (EUR 1.67 Billion), according to press reports, to modernise its armed forces. It could order up to 120 aircraft over the long term.

Three planes are now competing after an initial selection in October: the Rafale, Saab's Gripen JAS-39A and Boeing's F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet.

The Brazilian government is set to announce its selection in late August, a decision that will be influenced chiefly by the technology transfers proposed by the builders, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

The three companies are to make their last offer in June.

"The French industry is committed to technology transfers, Bockel told reporters.

"We are not reluctant," he added, noting that Euro copter, a subsidiary of European aerospace giant EADS, sold 50 EC-725 military transport helicopters to Brazil in December that will be assembled in the Latin American country.

After chatting with French exhibitors, including Rafale, Bockel met with Brazilian Defence Minister Nelson Jobim.

AFP / Expatica

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