Brazil's F-X2 contest prompts further dispute

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A São Paulo-based body that represents almost 60% of Brazil's aerospace and defence companies has issued a scathing attack on the government's open support for the Dassault Rafale in its 36-aircraft F-X2 fighter contest.

In a public letter, the board of the CIESP organisation says it "is concerned with the conclusion of this [selection] process in which the meticulous, professional and serious work developed by the air force may be cast aside". The service's recommendations should "be abided and respected by the federal government", it adds.

The statement comes after local media reports early this month claimed that Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and defence minister Nelson Jobim had made a final choice after meeting Dassault and French government representatives on 30 January. The defence ministry denies the claim, and says it is still analysing "the political, strategic and financial aspects" of the Rafale offer, plus bids based on the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Saab Gripen NG.

Declaring that "the French fighter, if chosen, represents a defeat", the CIESP has released unconfirmed details on the bids.

 
© Dassault

Including maintenance costs, these total $10.2 billion for the Rafale, $7.7 billion for the Super Hornet and $6 billion for the Gripen NG, it claims. At just 2,500 positions, the Dassault-led proposal would also provide the smallest number of new jobs, while forging yet-closer defence industrial links with Paris would be "a grievous error for a country that wishes to assure its sovereignty", it alleges.

Boeing manager of international business development Michael Coggins says: "The right solution for Brazil's F-X2 programme must be affordable, while guaranteeing air force supremacy in the region, national autonomy, and aerospace industrial development opportunities. Boeing believes the best way to achieve that solution is with the selection of the Super Hornet."

Dassault and Saab declined to comment.