French accuse Swedes over jet fighter contract

The French military aircraft maker Dassault has accused its Swedish and US competitors for a multi-billion-dollar jet fighter contract in Brazil of playing dirty.

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.

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.”

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Turkey forms ‘permanent committee’ to assess Swedish Nato deal

Turkey on Thursday said a new "permanent committee" would meet Finnish and Swedish officials in August to assess if the two nations are complying with Ankara's conditions to ratify their Nato membership bids.

Turkey forms 'permanent committee' to assess Swedish Nato deal

Finland and Sweden dropped their history of military non-alignment and announced plans to join Nato after Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of
February. All 30 Nato members must ratify the accession.

Nato member Turkey has demanded the extradition of dozens of suspected “terrorists” from both countries under an accession deal the three signed last month.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to “freeze” the process over Sweden and Finland’s failure to extradite the suspects.

He accuses them of providing a haven for outlawed Kurdish militants. “If these countries are not implementing the points included in the
memorandum that we signed, we will not ratify the accession protocol,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reaffirmed in a televised interview.

He said the committee would meet in August but provided no details.Turkey’s parliament has broken for its summer recess and will not be able
to hold a ratification vote before October. Some Turkish officials have warned that the process may drag out until next year.