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US looks to ease Brazil doubts over tech transfers
by Staff Writers
Rio De Janeiro (AFP) April 26, 2012

NATO rallies Spain over defence in austerity era
Madrid (AFP) April 26, 2012 - NATO will push at its May summit for members to keep up their commitments to international security in spite of hard economic times, its secretary general said Thursday.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen spoke after meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is overseeing emergency budget cuts, including nearly nine percent on defence spending.

Rajoy said Spain will review its contribution to NATO's support for Afghanistan after the alliance transfers security to Afghan forces in 2014.

Rasmussen said that at a summit of NATO leaders in Chicago on May 20 and 21, "We will discuss how to provide security in a time of economic austerity."

Discussions will include the cost of continuing to provide other support for Afghanistan after the security handover.

"NATO will pay its fair share but it's important that the whole international community and the Afghans themselves play their part because it is in the interests of all of our security," he said.

"When most budgets are cut, defence spending can't be exempt, but when economic times are hard security challenges don't get any easier," Rasmussen said.

"In Chicago we will show the way forward so that we can deal with the security challenges of tomorrow with the economic resources of today by working better together."

He cited projects such as a European anti-missile defence shield, which Spain has supported by allowing installations to be built on its soil.

Rajoy reaffirmed Spain's commitment to the mission due to wind down in 2014 in Afghanistan, where it has nearly 1,500 troops serving in a NATO force fighting Taliban insurgents.

Discussions at the Chicago summit "will determine the model for our contribution" to supporting Afghanistan after 2014, he said.

"It will have to have a solid political base and will have to be quantitatively and qualitatively different from the current mission," he said, without elaborating.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has used his trip to Brazil to lift doubts about Washington's pledge on technology transfer if Brasilia buys Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet.

Panetta, who ended a two-day visit on Thursday, sought to ease concerns that the United States could use technology transfer -- a key factor in Brazil's soon to be announced choice of which jet to purchase -- as a political lever.

The F/A-18 is competing against the French produced Rafale fighter and Swedish manufacturer Saab's Gripen aircraft for Brazil's contract for 36 next-generation fighter jets valued at between $4 billion and $7 billion.

Brazil, Latin America's dominant power and the world's sixth biggest economy, is now insisting on technology transfer in all its defense agreements.

Panetta on Wednesday offered Brazil "an unprecedented advanced technology sharing that is reserved for only our closest allies and partners."

"We fully understand that Brazil is not looking just to be the purchaser of a fighter aircraft, but rather a full-fledged partner in the development of cutting-edge aviation technology," he said in a speech at a military academy.

"With the Super Hornet, Brazil's defense and aviation industries would be able to transform their partnerships with US companies, and they would have the best opportunity to plug into worldwide markets," he added.

But Brazilian officials are wary of Washington's possible use of technology restrictions.

In 2006, the United States blocked the sale of 24 Super Tucano light attack aircraft made by Brazil's top aeronautics firm Embraer to Venezuela as they contained US-built components.

The Super Tucano is a turboprop aircraft used in counter insurgency, close air support, aerial reconnaissance missions and in pilot training.

In a joint press conference with Panetta in Brasilia on Tuesday, Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim made it clear his government wanted the fighter jets it will buy to be produced locally.

Brazil is keen to develop its own defense industry and wants to assemble aircraft with foreign technology for export, a plan Panetta appeared to support subject to conditions, noting that such a stance amounted to a policy shift.

"There was a time when the United States discouraged developing military capability in countries in Latin and Central America," the US defense secretary said on Wednesday.

"Today, we think the development of those kinds of capabilities is important if we can use those capabilities to develop the kind of innovative partnerships that I'm talking about, to advance the security in this region," he added.

Panetta pointed out that Washington now rarely denies Brazil technology export licenses and had in fact granted it 4,000 in the past two years.

US officials said orders for its technology in Brazil had soared 139 percent since 2007.

A major irritant for Brazil, however, was the US cancelation of a $380 million contract with Embraer to buy 20 AT-29 Super Tucano aircraft for the Afghan army.

Embraer and its US partner Sierra Nevada were awarded the contract in December but the US Air Force called off the deal in February after a legal challenge from rival Hawker Beechcraft Corp.

The Pentagon has called for a new round of bidding for the contract, but in any case the equipment will not be delivered before 2014.

On Wednesday, Panetta also praised Brazil's rise on the global stage.

"This is a relationship between two global powers, and we welcome Brazil's growing strength. We support Brazil as a global leader and seek closer defense cooperation," he noted.

"We won't agree on every matter -- no two countries, not even the closest allies, ever do. But I do believe that our common interests are so great, and the possibilities that come from our cooperation are so tangible, that we must seize this opportunity to build a stronger defense partnership," he said.

The US defense secretary began his first Latin America tour in Colombia on Monday and he was also to visit Chile after leaving Brazil.

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Britain tightens Argentina military exports
London (AFP) April 26, 2012 - Britain announced a clampdown Thursday on the sale of goods to Argentina's armed forces following an escalation in the row over the disputed Falkland Islands.

Business Secretary Vince Cable told parliament in a written statement that, with immediate effect, no export licences would be granted for sales of military goods or items that have a dual civilian-military purpose.

The minister explained the move was in response to Argentina's recent economic targetting of the archipelago.

"The government has reviewed this (export control) policy in the light of recent actions by the Argentine government aimed at harming the economic interests of the Falkland islanders," said Cable.

"We are determined to ensure no British licensable exports or trade have the potential to be used by Argentina to impose an economic blockade on the Falkland islanders or inhibit their legitimate rights to develop their own economy.

"In future no licences shall be granted for any military or dual-use goods and technology being supplied to military armed users in Argentina, except in exceptional circumstances."

Britain has refused to export goods that could be used to improve Argentina's armed forces since 1998, but has allowed transactions which would maintain the military's position.

There are believed to be around 1 million ($1.6 million) of outstanding contracts.

Argentina's 1982 invasion of the remote islands triggered a 74-day war, which ended in a humiliating defeat for Argentina after British prime minister Margaret Thatcher sent in a naval task force to reclaim the archipelago.

The conflict over the islands, which Britain has ruled since 1833, cost the lives of 649 Argentine and 255 British troops.


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Dassault reports 47% jump in Q1 sales
Paris (AFP) April 26, 2012
The French group Dassault Aviation reported Thursday a 47 percent jump in 2012 first quarter sales to 950 million euros ($1.25 billion) owing to strong results from its business aviation division. Falcon jet sales were up by 66 percent at 644 million euros, the company said in a statement. It delivered 15 new business jets during the first quarter, compared with nine during the same peri ... read more

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