Brazil backtracks on Rafale selection

Brazil has backtracked on an apparent announcement on 7 September that it would enter final negotiations with the French government and Dassault to buy at least 36 Rafale F3 fighters.

Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and French President Nicolas Sarkozy jointly announced the Rafale’s selection during ceremonies marking Brazil’s Independence Day. The agreement included a commitment by France to buy “a dozen” Embraer KC-390J tanker-transports, although Brazilian officials later put the number at 10.

But the announcement seemed to catch the competitors for the FX-2 contract off-guard. Even Embraer, Brazil’s largest aersospace company, was unable to publish a statement reacting to the news even two days after the announcement was made public.

Meanwhile, Brazilian Defence Minister Nelson Jobim has issued a statement that appears to contradict Rafale’s status as the only fighter selected to enter final negotiations on price. In fact, Brazil’s air force will continue negotiating terms for the FX-2 contract with all three competitors in the final round, including Rafale, Saab JAS-39 Gripen and the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Before the presidential announcement on Monday, the air force was scheduled to forward their recommendation for the FX-2 winner to Jobim’s office later this week.

Jobim’s statement affirms Sarkozy’s pledge to commit French industry to help Embraer develop the KC-390J, conceived as a jet-powered rival to the Lockheed Martin C-130J.

9 Responses to Brazil backtracks on Rafale selection

  1. Christopher Dye 9 September, 2009 at 12:05 pm #

    It may be that Brazil’s selection process has evolved, and is continuing to evolve, as Brazil considers its real, long term defense needs, particularly in light of the oil discoveries off its east coast. Perhaps they have decided now that they need two fighter types:

    (1) Naval fighter strike, which means small numbers of Rafales, coupled with land-based air defense/dominance for which the Rafale is also well suited, thus bringing the Rafale total to a number that makes economic, sustainable sense. Keep in mind that Brazil is one of only three countries on earth operating a carrier with steam catapults and that they have just finished a major overhaul of the Sao Paulo, formerly the French Foch. Thus, it makes sense to buy Rafales now, particularly because they are the highest performing plane around that can operate off that carrier.

    I am left to wonder whether the Brazilians will come shopping sometime soon for E-2s, not only for their carrier as the French have done, but also for land based operations as the Egyptians and others have done. They could combine Hawkeye operations/maintenance with the French (or sacre blu) with us to increase economies of scale. We know Hawkeyes can operate off the Sao Paulo because the French did so for years.

    (2)Serious, long range strike capabilites against all target types, including very heavilly defended ones, and access to the latest tech. There are very few countries in the world that truly have this capability (as opposed to operating fighters for defense and limited stike). I have wondered for a while if the Brazilians would come around to wanting this offensive power, as the Indians have, and how far up the tech ladder they want to go. If they have decided to go long range strike, then it means they have made the strategic decison that they want to be able to achieve air dominance and strike over all of South and Central America and up to 1000 miles out to sea (as opposed to operating only light-weight, low payload/range fighters), with all the geo-political implications that go with that ability.

    The USA is the best place for the Brazilians to come for long range strike(altho the French are good at the electonic component of this). Here, they can chose between naval and AF types, including the most advanced electronic warfare capabilities, with the assurance of on-going, leading-edge tech development. Obama has already sent his national sec advisor, James Jones, to brief the Braziians on the F/A-18E/F and possibly -G. Also, the E-2 can be part of the F-18 strike package if the Brazilians want. I have read that NorthrupG has given the Indians an 8-hour briefing the E2-D. Maybe the Brazilans are interested too.

    So, my cristal ball says, “Look for a split buy of Rafales and F-18s and maybe E-2s, altho those may come later if at all.”

  2. Royce 9 September, 2009 at 2:24 pm #

    may be a clever move by the Brazilians. France has promised them Rafales at low French Air Force prices, so they look over at the other two bidders and ask if they, too, would like to lower their bids. Then they go back to the French and ask, “So, just how badly do you want to make this first export sale of Rafale? Because your price is still too high.”

    Alternately, the Brazilian defense ministry is in a secret war with the rest of the executive branch over the fighter selection process.

  3. Stephen Trimble 9 September, 2009 at 2:27 pm #

    So it’s a “they’re crazy … like a fox” deal, then? What if they’re just being completely incompetent?

  4. Phaid 9 September, 2009 at 10:50 pm #

    Link to an interesting Brazilian article about the deal, from a reporter who interviewed the Brazilian Minister of Defense.

    http://colunistas.ig.com.br/luisnassif/2009/09/09/exclusivo-o-acordo-militar-brasil-franca/

    What it boils down to is that several crucial aspects of the deal, including the aircraft cost, fixed maintenance cost agreement, ability of Brazil to market Rafales in South America, and technology transfer, are simply promises made by Sarkozy without consulting Dassault or other interested parties.

    When and if those agreements are reached, all three bidders will still have to submit offers, which will be reviewed by the Brazilian Air Force, and subject to counteroffers.

    This isn’t done by a long shot. We all remember what happened the last time the French government made promises without consulting Dassault.

  5. Stephen Trimble 9 September, 2009 at 10:58 pm #

    Nicely done, Phaid. Amazing that so many are still reporting that the Rafale won the deal.

  6. Ed 9 September, 2009 at 11:50 pm #

    It’s a KC-390J now? Good grief! Or, good marketing by Rolls Royce to get the AE2100 as the powerplant, perhaps?

  7. puppethead 10 September, 2009 at 1:29 pm #

    Not sure how they used the Hawkeyes off the Foch, as they’d have made a nice big hole in the flight deck – they are too heavy to land on or get catapulted off the old carrier (around 20 tons empty/27 tons full). Plus an 80 foot-plus wingspan to think about, on a rather narrow boat.

    The heaviest aeroplanes to regularly operate (during testing only) off the Foch were the early Rafale Ms (11 tons empty/24 tons full – but restricted to a much lower weight off the Foch).

    Considering the difficulties that would be involved with beefing up the flight deck/arrestor gear/catapults, I think they’ll be sticking with the original plans for refurbished, re-engined and modernised Grumman/Marsh Trackers (should they ever come to fruition – this is Brazil we’re talking about. Not that I have anything against them, but like India, I wish they’d make a decision and action it!).

  8. bert 17 September, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

    It has nothing to do with aircraft or technology…It is just one more Sarkozy move for the french press. “Look at that, how good is the guy, he even succeed in selling an aircraft nobody wanted”…
    Down here in France, we have one or two wonderful announcement from sarkozy each week, and quite each day in winter…
    No matter if it is right or wrong, good or not, economical interesting or not, it is just a media move from a guy who desperatly want to be seen as a saviour, a hero…We’re quite use to it since two years now…In two or three months, we’ll hardly hear that saab or Boeing won the contract, because he’ll move somewhere else with another big move…Remember the US tanker deal…?

  9. >> 11 August, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

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