Brazil continues FX-2 competition, backtracks on Rafale 'selection'

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Brazil is continuing to negotiate with all three bidders for a multi-billion dollar fighter contract despite an announcement on 7 September by the presidents of Brazil and France that the Dassault Rafale F3 had been selected.

The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Saab Gripen NG could be still allowed to "redefine" their offers for the FX-2 contract, Brazilian defence minister Nelson Jobim said in a written clarification released late on 8 September.

Jobim's statement noted that the French government had committed to deliver the Rafale "at competitive and reasonable prices, comparable to those paid by the French military".

 
© Sirpa Air
Has France's Rafale edged ahead in the FX-2 contest?

The statement could prompt Dassault's rivals to resubmit their bids at a lower price to stay competitive with the Rafale proposal. But Saab and Boeing were still waiting to learn details about the Brazilian government's position on the negotiations with the Rafale.

"We have not been notified by the FX-2 commission nor anyone in the Brazilian government of any decision," Boeing says. "We will continue to work with Brazil on all aspects of the FX-2 competition pending formal notice of a final decision."

Jobim's statement contradicted remarks by presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Nicolas Sarkozy of France on 7 September, Brazil's independence holiday. Both Sarkozy and da Silva declared that the Rafale was Brazil's preferred choice, with da Silva praising the French government's openness about transferring technology, in particular.

Brazil is also seeking to obtain rights to assemble the Rafale locally and to market the aircraft to neighbouring Latin American countries. Although the initial order is for 36 aircraft, Brazil is reportedly considering buying as many as 130 fighters.

As a result of Sarkozy's visit to Brazil on 7 September, the two governments issued a joint communiqué that committed to further collaboration in the aerospace sector. Brazil has already agreed to acquire 50 Eurocopter EC725 helicopters for its military.

Sarkozy and da Silva also announced that French industry would become involved in the Embraer KC-390 tanker-transport development programme. The French military would also acquire about "a dozen" KC-130Js, although Brazilian officials later described the number as 10 aircraft.

 
© Embraer

French companies Dassault, Safran and Thales are expected to join Embraer's supply chain for the KC-390, which is being developed to rival the Lockheed Martin C-130J after 2014. Brazil launched the KC-390 programme in April, pledging nearly $2 billion for development and ordering the first 22 aircraft.