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Sarkozy confident on French plane sale to Brazil

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) April 13, 2010
French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed confidence Tuesday that Brazil would choose French-made Rafale fighter jets for its air force in a hotly contested bidding process.

"I am confident. Things are progressing," Sarkozy said when asked about the contract after meeting Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in Washington.

Brasilia has stated its preference to purchase 36 French-made, semi-stealth Rafale jets, but a firm deal has not yet been announced.

Lula is expected to announce his choice in mid-May, having pushed back a decision due in April.

"If it's a decision taken by the president and the government, it's inevitably a political decision," Sarkozy said.

But "it's not just a political criterion. The Rafale is an excellent plane... President Lula and I really have a great bond. I know what he's thinking. There are no surprises on this issue."

The Rafale, made by Dassault, is seen as the frontrunner in a tender also contested by Sweden's Gripen NG by Saab and the F/A-18 Super Hornet manufactured by US giant Boeing.

The deal is estimated to be worth between four and seven billion dollars, depending on details of armaments, maintenance and peripheral industrial involvement. Brazil could also end up buying up to another 100 fighter jets from the supplier over the long term.

Brazil has made technology transfer the main priority in the tender, so it can produce fighter aircraft itself and boost its aviation industry. Lula previously said the Rafale deal would be more advantageous in this respect for Brazil.

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Kuwaiti Islamists spurn French jet deal
Kuwait City (UPI) Apr 12, 2010
Stoking additional controversy, a bloc of Islamist lawmakers warned that they would question Kuwait's prime minister or defense minister if the country went ahead with plans to purchase French-made Rafale warplanes. Islamist lawmakers lobbed the threat during a news conference at which they revealed what they called significant documents showing leading Kuwait military officials spurnin ... read more

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