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Brazil to buy 36 Saab aircraft

Staff writer |
Saab AB prevailed over Boeing and Dassault Aviation in a competition to supply the Brazilian air force with 36 aircraft to replace its aging Mirage 2000.

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Brasilia agreed to pay $4.5 billion for 36 Gripen NG jet fighters, marking the end of a process that has unfolded in fits and starts since 2001 under three different presidents. Dassault wanted $8 billion for 36 units of its Rafale fighter, while Boeing was asking $7.5 billion for three-dozen F/A-18 Super Hornets, the Brazilian government said in a statement.

The decision for the Gripen "took into account performance, the effective transfer of technology and costs – not just of acquisition but of maintenance," Defense Minister Celso Amorim told a press conference.

Besides offering the lowest price, Saab promised comprehensive technology sharing with Brazil. Securing a transfer of the relevant technology has become a Brazilian priority in major defense procurement deals. Some components of the fighters will be built in Brazil.

The choice of the Gripen caught many by surprise, as a number of Brazilian officials had signaled their preference for the Rafale even as the pilots who will eventually fly the new fighters wanted the F/A-18.

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