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French accuse Swedes over jet fighter contract

AFP/The Local · 13 Nov 2009, 08:12

Published: 13 Nov 2009 08:12 GMT+01:00

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The Brazilian subsidiary of the French company held a hastily called news conference in Brasilia on Thursday to accuse Saab of Sweden and Boeing of the United States of trying to improperly tilt the contest in their favour by claiming Dassault's Rafale jet was too expensive.

"Unfortunately, our competitors have started to make public declarations that don't correspond to reality in a bid to influence the decision," Dassault executive Jean-Marc Merialdo said in the conference broadcast on the Internet.

The Rafale has been seen as the front-runner throughout the process because of France's pledge to transfer all technology related to the high-tech fighter so Brazil can eventually build the planes itself.

That position was reinforced two months ago when the presidents of Brazil and France, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Nicolas Sarkozy, issued a joint statement saying Brazil had initiated negotiations to buy 36 Rafales.

Since then, though, the process has been held up pending delivery to the Brazilian government of an air force technical assessment of the three contenders.

That report is now due to be delivered by the end of the month, according to Dassault.

Lula has said he will make the final decision based on political and strategic considerations rather than purely budgetary ones - again bolstering the bid from France, which enjoys a strategic relationship with Brazil.

Saab and Boeing are far from ready to throw in the towel, however, and have sought to portray their aircraft - the Gripen NG and the F/A-18 Super Hornet, respectively - as the best choice for Brazil.

A Boeing executive in charge of international investment, Michael Coggins, last week accused France of being "intellectually dishonest" by ignoring move in the US Congress to also approve the transfer of "key" technology of the F/A-18 to Brazil.

Story continues below…

Dassault was also guilty of "fear marketing" because the Rafale was 40 percent more expensive than the Boeing fighter, Coggins charged in an interview with the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.

Dassault's Merialdo would not discuss prices, citing a confidentiality clause in the tender.

But he stated that claims that the Rafale was more expensive by such a margin were "unfounded" and asserted it was "comparable to other aircraft in the same class."

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:47 November 13, 2009 by Rick Methven
Rather misleading headline.

"French accuse Swedes over fighter contract" then everything else relates to a spat between Dasault and Boeing. Saab is not involved in the dispute.

Boeing are trying to stay in the race by doing what Boeing always does. undercut everybody else on the contract price and then make up the shortfall by selling spares at an inflated price.

Gripen is the best technolgically and I expect that the pilots would like it. But the remarks like

"Lula has said he will make the final decision based on political and strategic considerations"

seems to indicate that he has already decided that the French will secure the order.
12:39 November 13, 2009 by Nemesis
Dasault and Boeing are known for ther edirty underhand business tactics.

With SAAB, what you see is what you get. With Dasault and Boeing that is not always the case, usually due to hidden costs or a sudden rise in materials or other excuse.

SAAB always stays in budget and always gives high quality equipment and maintenance.

I hoep SAAB wins this contract.
13:14 November 13, 2009 by coolguy09
In defense deals kickbacks and commissions are common commodity ,whether its a french,US ,UK ,sweden .
13:26 November 13, 2009 by karex

This is very typical behaviour of this industry.

At a defense show in a South American country several years ago, the french managed to cancel all the hotel bookings for the grippen personnel. When they arrived, they had no rooms. The city was completely booked up...

This industry is strife with underhanded tactics.

As for the pilots, I was there at the Defense Exhibit in Rio when the Grippen was introduced. The cadets from the Air Force Academy went nuts, even their superior officers all had stupid grins on their faces...

The US doesn't have a chance: that's because it's not only the hidden suprises of the maufacturer that are at play, the US Government also thinks all US industry is fair game when it comes to trade wars and will not (and has in fact in the past) not batted an eyelid when blocking much needed spare parts for Brazilin military jets.

The problem with Grippen is their American suppliers. Brazil doesn't believe that the Swedes can control their American suppliers. Brazil wants a technology transfer. They have no trouble getting info from the Swedish-built parts of the plane, but then there are the American parts...
15:50 November 13, 2009 by Rick Methven
I spent years in competition with Boeing and McDonald Douglas. If I was getting close to getting a deal that they wanted, all of a sudden their price drops. I was once told by a Boeing Executive, to go home as they would never let a European company get a contract that they wanted. One Boeing Vice President at a Aviation conference actually said when questioned about market share "A fair share of the Market for Boeing is 100%. Europe should stick to wine and cheese, thats the only thing that their good at".

It took SAAB engineers to get the design of the Boeing 757 right though!

Boeing always gets the US dept of Trade to block any technology transfer of US components. SAAB has lost many deals over the years for the Draken, Viggen and Gripen
17:52 November 13, 2009 by karex
You're right on the mark. But the French are no angels either.

Maybe they learned these tactics with Boeing...
19:08 November 13, 2009 by voidplay
And SAAB is a bay needing protection from the evil world !!

What with their 'clean' records ;-)
19:23 November 13, 2009 by karex

That's not the point. No one is an innocent angel in this business. Having had direct contact with this type of business dealings, I have had some things choking me for years and will now get them out.

Grippen is made by a consortium of companies. Most are Swedish, not all. They need to get their fannies in gear and invest some resources towards improving internal communication and cooperation. They also need to ditch all their American suppleirs and go 100% European.

Then things will start to happen fast. I know for a fact that this is one Hell of a good aircraft.

As for Boeing, they need to concentrate on their passenger aircraft and leave the military stuff to the grown-ups.
20:15 November 13, 2009 by lesuedois
Yes it is true of France has lobbied with Brazil but usually it is other countries that support it ... As the English and Tony Blair for the Olympics to be held in London against the Mayor of Paris Delanoe. ( Ok the french was ridiculous but...)SM
09:07 November 14, 2009 by rgsmo
look who is accusing !!!
21:57 November 18, 2009 by lesuedois
Ok rgsmo but follow the news and you will understand...
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