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Bildt plugs Swedish fighter on Brazil visit

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07:18 CET+01:00
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt argued the advantages of the Gripen NG jet fighter over rivals from the USA and France while on a visit to Brazil.

The Gripen offered "the possibility of a strategic alliance" because of how involved Brazilian industry could be in its assembly, Bildt said during a visit to Brazil's capital Brasilia.

Unlike the Dassault Rafale being offered by France and the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet put forward by the United States in a tender about to be decided by Brazil, the Gripen NG has yet to go into production.

That offered great opportunities for Brazilian businesses to contribute to its manufacture, Bildt stressed in a joint news conference with Brazilian counterpart Celso Amorim.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has already declared his preference for France's Rafale to win the tender to supply 36 modern fighters to his country's air force, in part because of Brazil's strategic alliance with France.

But a final decision, involving his national security council, has not yet been made.

The contract is expected to be worth in the range of $4 billion to $7 billion.

Brazil is keen to win technology transfer out of the deal and Dassault has said it would supply all the knowhow behind its jet.

The US technology in the F/A-18, on the other hand, is subject to oversight by the US Congress, which has in the past refused to allow Brazil to export aircraft using US components.

Although the Gripen NG is powered by a US-made engine, maker Saab has insisted there should be no barrier to the rest of the aircraft's technology being passed on to Brazil.

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