Final Round for Brazil’s F-X2

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Brazil squeezes Boeing and SAAB to match the terms of the mega-deal agreed by the presidents of the two countries. After Eurocopter and DCSN have already invested large programs in Brazil, Dassault could be next if Rafale is selected for the F-X2.

The Brazilian Air Force has extended the deadline for submitting best and final proposals for the F-X2 fighter aircraft, heating the competition between France, Sweden and the USA by offering 36 advanced fighter aircraft to Brazil. As expected, after the financial terms of the +$7 billion program and its underlying technology have been evaluated, technology transfer and benefits to the local industry will become driving factors. The two week extension came a fortnight after Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the selection of the Rafale – this premature announcement forced Brazilian defense minister Nelson Jobim to confirm, that the competition remained open, allowing for the two week extension.

France has made great effort to win the F-X2 program, with President Sarkozi personally discussing the program in his recent meetings with the Brazilian president. The Rafale is thought to be a favorite contender, due to the generous share of production and technology transfer offered by Paris, in addition to other benefits in complementary programs. France has several large- scale defense programs undergoing in Brazil, including the construction of five submarines and assembly of transport helicopters (EC725). Brazil is also acquiring French military surplus equipment, namely aircraft carriers and amphibious ships, while France has committed to buy 10-15 KC-390 transport aircraft from Embraer.

Despite the French lead, Boeing and SAAB are not remaining idle. SAAB has embarked on cooperation with Brazilian industries, inviting a group of 20 Brazilian engineers to Sweden to start working on a Brazilian Gripen, if such aircraft is selected. The company is offering Brazil to locally produce up to 40% of the aircraft assemblies, in addition to the construction of aircraft. If Brazil selects the Gripen NG it will be the launch-customer of this aircraft and will share a significant part of its production and supply chain. Brazilian aerospace manufacturers are hopeful, that more aerospace industries could evolve in-country, similar to the growth of Embraer, following the collaborative AMX program with Italy.

In a last attempt to gain local support for its F/A-18E/F proposal, the Boeing Company conducted a two-day conference in São Paulo, Brazil, discussing prospective business with 140 potential partners and suppliers. “We are confident that our offer represents the best-value solution for Brazil, offering the most advanced technology, a proven superior logistics-support system and a price that is considerably lower than that of the Rafale,” said Bob Gower, vice president of the Boeing F/A-18E/F Program.

“Opportunities for companies in Latin America’s largest nation extend far beyond the F-X2 competition to all areas of Boeing’s business.” Said Gower. Boeing’s final proposal was submitted in August and full technology transfer, as authorized by the Department of Defense and Congress, it included local co-production options and access to aircraft systems, enabling Brazil to integrate its own weapons.