The French made Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft is off the table (again) in the run for Brazil’s next generation fighter, a main quality newspaper of the country reported on 15 December 2013.
According to the Folha São Paulo (rotation 200,000+) the Brazilian government finds the Rafale too expensive to use. That leaves the Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripen-E/NG and the Boeing F/A-18E/F (Advanced) Super Hornet as the final competitors.
The Gripen has an advantage if Brazil wants brand-new aircraft. Boeing is set to decide to close the Super Hornet’s production line in 2014 if no new orders show up on the horizon. Brazil’s fighter decision is not expected before 2015.
If the Rafale is truly exit the charm offensive of then French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been to no avail. From the beginning the Dassault plane seemed too expensive for the Latin America country, but its government re-opened the full bidding process partly thanks to pressure from Paris. Sarkozy left office in 2012.
Favour the Gripen NG
Brazil wants to buy 36 fighter aircraft to start replacing its Mirage 2000s and Northrop F-5s. The Mirage 2000s are even expected to stop flying with the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) this December. The Brazilian Air Force brass is said to favour the Gripen NG as well, probably because it is easier and cheaper to maintain.
According to reports leaked out by Swiss Air Force personnel the Rafale has the upper hand in several combat scenarios and in technology compared to an early demo Gripen NG. But with the fully developed Gripen-E on its way the Swiss are also poised to get 22 of these more affordable Swedish fighter jets.
When two dogs fight for a bone, there might be the unexpected third dog to run away with it. Sukhoi has offered the Brazilians its next generation stealth fighter, the delayed T-50, including sharing its technology with the Brazilian industry. The FAB is not strange to Russian technology, as it already flies Russian made Mi-35M Hind attack helicopters. If the Sukhoi T-50 is really going to be the jack-in-the-box, we’ll have to see.
© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger
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