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Saab wins Brazil jets deal after NSA spying sours Boeing bid (reuters.com)
380 points by joshfraser on Dec 18, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 131 comments



Claiming that the NSA scandal is the primary reason for the Saab win is an overly US-centric view.

While there's evidence that Boeing's chances were hurt by the NSA revelations, it's not true that Boeing was a clear favourite. Both Saab and Dassault had presented strong bids and were considered serious contenders, particularly as both offered much higher industrial participation and technology sharing than Boeing and as such had the support of Brazil's aviation industry. That cannot be underestimated, and it's why Boeing was at a disadvantage even before the NSA story broke.

The Saab Gripen met Brazil's FX-2 requirements, it has a lower operating cost than the Rafale or Super Hornet, Saab has agreed to transfer a massive amount of technology and Sweden has committed to investigate a quid pro quo acquisition of Brazilian KC-390 tanker transports. Boeing could not match all that.


Claiming that the NSA scandal is the primary reason for the Saab win is an overly US-centric view.

From TFA: "Until earlier this year, Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet had been considered the front runner... "The NSA problem ruined it for the Americans," a Brazilian government source said on condition of anonymity."

Does it remain a "US-centric view" when Brazil is the party saying, "Because NSA"?


Not exactly, but consider that Brazil gains leverage simply by saying Boeing was in the running, even if they weren't. e.g., Brazil wants the NSA gone, but they don't have any means to apply the necessary pressure. Point at an already failed Boeing deal, and tada, now you have a pressure point.

Or possibly Brazil had promised to go with Boeing, but recently decided Saab was a better deal. Backing out would cost them whatever political capital is traded in smoky rooms. Now they can point to the NSA and save face.

International relations are complicated.


It's always surprising to me when people believe anonymous government sources, when the statement is in that governments interest. Government personnel are paid to act and speak in their governments interest, which includes lying, exaggerating, provoking, etc., and in my experience when that source is anonymous and when the statement is advantageous to that governments interests it's probably not true, or not the whole truth. It lets that government publicly disavow knowledge of the potentially inflammatory statement (we don't want to hurt US relations!), while simultaneously telling the opposite story with deniability (we want our citizens to think well gladly hurt US relations!).

For all we know this "leak" is being used to legitimize something else entirely, perhaps the Brazilian military is unhappy withy the decision and this story exists to deflect criticisms from domestic sources: we picked the unpopular aircraft because the NSA would use Boeings aircraft to spy on us. Or we want to send a message, etc.

Welcome to world politics, where the truth is rarely what people say it is.


Indeed, the Brazilian military had openly declared the Saab Gripen as their favorite after months of technical studies and tests.

On the other hand, the NSA spying on Brazil's president and on some large companies (sign of a commercial use of NSA's resources, not just defense as is otherwise claimed) may have contributed to the souring of some relations used to lobby for Boeing, therefore weakening it's position and enabling Saab to break the deadlock.


The Gripen jet fighter was already the Air Force favorite amongst the contenders. In 2009 the President had settled for the Rafale and it caused an uproar in the Air Force as they had not been consulted and had previously expressed that their fighter of choice would be the Gripen. The government had said multiple times that the F-18 was a too costly option, so this statement about the NSA is probably just a way to gain some leverage over the situation.


I love how people keep acting like Brazil is being somewhat evil here by trying to gain leverage...to stop us from constant illegal spying...Yep, super objectionable.


Nobody is saying it's evil or objectionable, they're just pointing out that it would be in Brazil's interest to exploit the issue. That's just how the world works.


There's a term for it: realpolitik http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realpolitik


We shouldn't forget the illegal spying happens against American citizens in American soil. I suppose the NSA's charter includes spying on Brazil and they wouldn't be doing their jobs if they weren't spying on us.

Much like we probably try to intercept every communication for of foreign diplomatic missions in Brazilian soil.


That's why Obama has his secret conversations inside his tent of secrets. (Not just in Brazil, but the picture of him in the tent happens to be from Brazil.)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12810675


Never heard of the tent before, interesting - but why doesn't it cover the floor? I was assuming it was some kind of faraday cage, but the lack of floor covering is a bit weird...


Maybe it's a rug inside the tent?


Even if the NSA's spying program ended up not affecting the outcome of the fighter decision, it can still be worthwhile to claim that it did if they have an independent goal of reducing that program.


I think the NSA would know if that was the case and be able to pass that information along.


Very likely, although they probably wouldn't pass this on the public.


> "Until earlier this year, Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet had been considered the front runner..

That simply isn't true. The Brazilian government was very clearly pointing towards the Rafale while the air force was somewhat leaning towards the Gripen NG. There was enormous pressure not to drop the F/A-18 altogether, despite the clear shortcomings of Boeing's proposal.


The article does not source the claim about the Super Hornet being the front-runner, although previous reports have claimed that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff preferred the Super Hornet for political reasons.

The part of the sentence that's an actual quote doesn't contradict my post.


Surely not "because NSA" entirely.

It could also be because the USA has stopped a big sale from Embraer to Venezuela years ago.

And earlier this year the USA annulled a contract that Embraer had won to supply Super Tucano to the US Air force in favour of a local plane maker.

EDIT: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2013/03/15/u-s-air-for...


It might not be NSA itself, but learning that US is willing to implement backdoors in their interest is a big deal - especially in defense industry. You either have the trust or you don't.


That doesn't mean no one else is doing the same thing. You do recall all the nice embedded controller chips from china sold to the US:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/95282643/Backdoors-Embedded-in-DoD...


That is a nice theory and all, but I must ask, is it more than that?

We got the comments from each party privileged to the private deals each company made. We can cut away the commentary of the article, and still be left with a finger pointing at NSA. At that point, we can either trust that they speak the truth, or think they are lying.

> lower operating cost than the Rafale or Super Hornet, Saab has agreed to transfer a massive amount of technology and Sweden has committed to investigate a quid pro quo acquisition of Brazilian KC-390 tanker transports

Was that a new offer on the table, or has it been there several years? What causes the negotiations to continue for years, and what caused the negotiations to stop now? Those are the question I am left with after reading parent comment in the light of the article.


Again, the NSA-as-primary-factor angle only applies if you believe that the Super Hornet was far and away the front-runner to win the F-X2 contract. Yet that's hardly certain, especially as the Brazilian defence industry and military had expressed a preference for the Rafale and Gripen.

The basics of the Saab offer have likely been the same for more than a year now, including talks on the KC-390 and the option of leasing JAS-39C and D aircraft for an interim capability.

What has changed is that Brazil has been forced to retire all 12 of its Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft by the end of the year, as they have reached the limit of their service lives without costly refurbishment. This has left a gap in the country's air defence capability that needs to be filled urgently, meaning that the government had no option but to finalise F-X2. Until now successive governments have treated it as a political football, being unwilling to commit to the high cost in case it cost them at election time.


In light of http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/report-snow... - I'd say it was pretty tough to make any credible case that NSA wasn't at the crux of the matter. Frankly to suggest otherwise just sounds like so much spin.


People need to realize that companies like Boeing, GE, etc. are hardly even viewed as "American" overseas. We (Americans) like to think they are, but these companies are decidedly multinational with huge operations in many, many countries that employ thousands. They also make lots, if not the majority, of their revenue in non-US markets. Their headquarters may be in the US (not always), but they could easily migrate elsewhere, and would, if it were in the best interests of the corporation. In fact, as the rest of the world develops and grows economically and the US becomes a smaller share of the global pie, many may choose to abandon the US market if it's no longer worth the hassle should an oppressive regulatory scheme develop.


I worked for Boeing, we definitely considered ourselves an American corporation. Because of ITAR [1] we could not simply pick up with all of our IP to another country.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITAR


There are only a few companies which are viewed as more "American" than Boeing or GE. MacDonalds and CocaCola maybe.


As a brazilian, I have to say you're right. Maybe the younger generation, much more focused on and exposed to computer/electronics brands, doesn't care much for Boeing or GE. But to anyone here over 30, Boeing is pretty dammn 'American'.


Or Apple.

(ducks)


Why duck? Apple is a reasonable example.


Apple has had a renaissance lately. I believe they are more of a world company based in Cali.


What does 'having a renaissance' have to do with whether they are American or not? If anything, they are becoming more 'American' with their high-PR plans to build stuff in the USA. Their products all have 'designed in California' etched on them. They are, and they want to be, American.


>Maybe the younger generation, much more focused on and exposed to computer/electronics brands, doesn't care much for Boeing or GE. But to anyone here over 30, Boeing is pretty damn 'American'.

This is why I said that, younger people see Apple more than older people do because of the "renaissance."

You could easily counter with the Apple 2 in the 80s...

Edit: they want to be Californian, they are different note how it doesnt say designed in America.


>note how it doesnt say designed in America.

Ha! I hadn't thought about that untill your post. What the hell is this 'designed in California' thing? Boy, Apple really does try hard to look cool. Someone probably said "why not 'designed in Silicon Valley'?" and he/she was fired for not knowing that it was too bourgeois.


I don't remember the 80s, so I don't know what you would say about the apple 2 :) as a non-American under 30, I consider apple very American. California is American like Hollywood and NYC.


This only makes them "more american". Many people feel that they are the extension of the US government abroad since they collaborate with the US so closely.


In a sense they are. Most of these companines are limited by what tech they can and cant export and who they are allowed to export to.


Swede here: Boeing and GE are viewed as about as American a company can get.


I would add McDonalds too. But can't figure out if NSA has to do anything with them... still thinking...


Greek here, I'd like to add Coca-Cola on that list.


As nether indicated, they are definitely viewed as American. Why? ITAR. Anything that's even been near America (or worked on by an American, or contains a tiny American component) suddenly becomes poisonous. While you might be right about some classes of large corporation (oil companies, banks etc), the defence industry has a HUGE divide between American and non-American.


Boeing are certainly regarded as a 100% US company in Europe.


The French bid was turned down by the President herself after major set backs in the current France-Brazil partnership building a nuclear submarine for the Brazilian Navy.

Not mentioned here is the fact that old conspiracy theories surrounding the explosion that destroyed the Alcantara launch pad and killed the cream of the crop of the Brazilian space program, have recently been resurrected and it's believed plausible by some members of the Brazilian government although not widely publicized. Some blame the French for possible sabotaging it.

Over the years the Brazilian secret service (ABIN), have arrested several French spies around Alcantara - the latest case was that a French spy posing as kitesurf instructor. Other cases include water buoys found at sea near the Air Base loaded with electronics, also blamed on the French.

EDIT: added a few sources (sorry portuguese only)

http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/fsp/poder/137424-suspeita-de-sa...

http://www.metro.org.br/jose_alves/os-cacas-militares-e-as-b...

http://jornalpequeno.com.br/2013/11/22/governo-confirma-cont...

http://www.planobrazil.com/dez-anos-depois-explosao-de-fogue...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_rocket_explosion


I used to know a mechanic in the Australian air force back in the 90s, and he said that Dassault lost out on bids for us because they were big on lock-in. I don't know if it's still true, but back then, my mate said that you had to have a custom toolkit to work on a Dassault plane - so anywhere you might conceivably ever want to work on a plane, you'd have to supply it with their custom kit. We're talking things as simple as screwdrivers.


> old conspiracy theories surrounding the explosion that destroyed the Alcantara launch pad

I have to point out the VLS launcher has a seriously weird all-solid-fuel design. I am not a rocket scientist, but, as an engineer, I have to wonder what the hell those rocket scientists knew no other spacefaring country did since nobody launches satellites on all-solid-fuel rockets. They cannot be controlled after lit (the VLS used all-solid-fuel-with-oxidizer and not solid-fuel-with-liquid-oxidizer).

When you are doing something nobody else is doing it the same way you are (in special the people who have been successfully doing it for decades) it's time for you to question your own wisdom.


> I have to point out the VLS launcher has a seriously weird all-solid-fuel design. I am not a rocket scientist, but, as an engineer, I have to wonder what the hell those rocket scientists knew no other spacefaring country did since nobody launches satellites on all-solid-fuel rockets.

Sure they do.

For example, NASA's LADEE mission was launched to the moon in September 2013 on a Minotaur V: a five-stage all-solid rocket.

Last month, India just launched a Mars orbiter using the PSLV: a 4-stage rocket with only the second and fourth stages being liquid. The first stage was solid, and had 6 solid rocket boosters. Thus, it launched entirely on solids.

And of course, there are lots of liquid-fueled rockets with solid boosters on liquid-fueled rockets. The French Ariane 5, for example, has one liquid core stage plus two solids. The solids produce 92% of thrust at liftoff. Solids are great at producing thrust.

The American Titan IIIc rocket took this configuration to its ultimate conclusion. It was launched solely on the solid rocket boosters. The liquid-fueled core stage did not even ignite until a couple of minutes into the mission, i.e., although it was at the bottom of the stack, it actually served as a second stage.

If you're talking about spacefaring nations that avoid solids, you're really only talking about the Russians, Chinese, and Ukrainians. They only use solids on military missions, and stick with liquids on civilian missions. They get the necessary thrust by clustering lots of engines together.

The Chinese moon rover, for example, was launched on a Long March 3B with a total of 8 engines ignited at lift-off -- 4 liquid-fueled engines in the core stage, plus 4 liquid rocket boosters. Yes, that's right, even their strap-on boosters are liquid-fueled.


Thanks for pointing that out. Still, all-solid doesn't look like a very popular choice.


A lot was said about it back then.

After the explosion, the Brazilian Space Agency was criticized for using solid-fuel rockets, which are easier to build and ignite than liquid-fuel rockets, but also dangerous because they lack throttle controls and emergency shut-offs.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_rocket_explosion)


And those guys were our elite rocket scientists...

It's sad so many died in the accident, but engineering and rocketry are notoriously unforgiving.


I don't think it was a matter of 'wisdom'. The drawbacks are pretty obvious for everyone, specially for rocket scientists.

My bets are on extreme cost reduction measures, plus unrealistic deadlines.


Care to cite your sources? (en/fr/pt)


Done


Thanks.


Why is France so concerned with Brazil...?


There's big money to be made launching satellites. The Alcantara Launch Centre (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alc%C3%A2ntara_Launch_Center) is in theory the biggest competitor to the French launch centre in Guiana, where most of the European satellites are launched from. I say in theory because although they share the best geoloc in the world when it comes to geosync orbit launches, the Guiana centre is a fully functional space centre while the Brazilian counterpart is not much more than a naked launch pad.

But with the right partners and some investment the Alcântara could become a real treat to the French centre in Guiana.


ABIN can't arrest people.


Yes it can, I know that for a fact. It doesn't normally do it because it would blow the agents covers and so they rely on "Policia Federal" to carry out arrests.


Their own website is wrong then. Question 10 here says they do not have police powers and thus cannot arrest people:

http://www.abin.gov.br/modules/mastop_publish/?tac=Perguntas...


  > they do not have police powers and thus cannot arrest people
Let's face it, that's not exactly what their website says. A translation would be more like ... policing is beyond their "job scope" and detaining, arresting and interrogating are activities incompatible with the Intelligence work they do - for obvious reasons.

So, saying that they don't detain nor arrest people is fair point. Although they could detain and so could any other Brazilian citizen detain any person caught red handed (Latin In flagrante delicto) as stated in the Brazilian constitution.


Actually, that's pretty accurately what their website says:

"Can ABIN arrest people? No. ABIN doesn't have police powers/attributions."

Original in Portuguese: A ABIN pode prender pessoas? Não. A ABIN não tem atribuições de polícia. Deter, prender, custodiar ou interrogar são atos incompatíveis com a atividade de Inteligência.

Saying any Brazilian citizen can detain someone caught in a criminal act is not what we're talking about here.


But they provide all-source to the people that can.


Boeing builds spy satellites for the US gov and their "Boeing Defense, Space & Security" division is deeply embedded in the intelligence community.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/washington/11satellite.htm...

http://ctovision.com/2010/09/new-boeing-intelligence-collabo...


I can't help but get the feeling, especially from the way things are cited in the article, that the NSA spying was not the cause of Boeing's bid souring, but rather that the decision was used as an opportunity to put some pressure on the NSA. Good on them either way. The economic impact is just one of the ways this program hurts Americans as well as foreign nationals.


The F/A-18 had the higher cost of all three final options. Also, the lack of a full technology transfer program (only the Gripen NG proposal had it, including local production) and the possibility of backdoors in any of the multitude of unauditable software systems that fly the planes sealed its fate.

The Rafale was closer, but the high cost of maintenance did it.


Switzerland made a comparable decision this year selecting the Gripen [1] which beat the Rafale, and Eurofighter (Boeing retracted the bid for the Super Hornet).

The decision happened long before the NSA revelations and I think that shows that the Gripen has things that speak for it on its own.

[1] http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/switzerland-replacing-it...


I'm Brazilian. Here's my opinion:

The reason they mention it was the NSA is because the government wants to capitalize on the anti-american commotion (and it's working).

The real reason is that Boeing is a competitor to Embraer, so transfer of technology would be limited. Boeing simply had a worse, more expensive offer.


I wouldnt say "anti-american" but "anti-NSA"..

And its pretty deserved, and im saying that also as a brazilian, cause: would you trust in the software, hardware and firmware of those after all we know about the NSA revelations? worse yet , if you think you dont have access to the source code, or to modify any part of it, as a pure blackbox..

Would you trust your country safety and security to something that its very likely to be a trojan horse(somehow), after all we know now?

How can you trust your defense to something or somebody you cant trust at all?

(and lets not forget that Embraer was on the NSA espionage files too)

So, this is not "anti-american", but a pretty wise decision.. forgeting all the politics involved in the case.. Its pretty rational


First, the Boeing offer wasn't even top 5 anymore. The only companies still on the bid were Dassault and Saab (favored by the military). Then, out of the blue, they come and announce... "we finally settled on Saab instead of Boeing because of NSA"... Give me a break.

Dilma is crazy to boost the government's image, internal and worldwide, making our country look like a bastion of freedom and democracy, when we both know it's none of that (unless you work for the government).

I agree with everything said about NSA, but we can't be naive to the fact this is going to be used as a PWMD (Political Weapon of Mass Destruction) to justify anything from now on.


They're just passing the political bill for the USA to pay, of course it wasn't the reason for the deal, things aren't that simple. But politics is everywhere, the USA is always trying to get it's way, has used spying to cut deals, spies on everyone, etc... I'm all for all countries everywhere playing this card every time they can, why not?


Our government is left-wing oriented and totally anti-american on his core. We are on the way to become Venezuela 2.0 which is on it's way to become Cuba 2.0.


That makes sense...it's typical Latin American populism that has more valid reasoning than normal. Saab did have a cheaper offer, although ostensibly a government that "spies" is evil and not someone you'd want to buy military equipment from, even though Sweden is a spying partner with the US.


The Gripen is simply the most cost effective choice of aircraft.... It already uses a lot of American technology, so backdoors probably exist, but it is a newer design than the old airframe of the FA-18, and it's easier to service than the Rafale. The IAF had conducted multiple tests during their MMRCA competition, and Rafale, Typhoon and Gripen came out as a equally matched, with some saying that the Typhoon was an inferior plane. In the end, Rafale won the Indian competition because of intense lobbying by the French, with their Premier paying a visit to India to clench the deal.

Saab was very open for transfer of technology at that time, and I imagine it still is, which would be one of the biggest factors in their favour. There have also been some rumors about the less than stellar performance of the Rafale in recent conflict situations which I'm sure also contributed to the deal.


I agree with everything you said, but a minor correction: the Rafale has not been exported yet, India has yet to acquire it.


Maybe Saab won because they had a better offer. And maybe Boing usually wins these deals because they have the backing of large intelligence agencies. Who knows.


Could be. A popular theory is that in Norway Saab lost due to diplomatic pressure from the US.

"In the fall of 08, we invited a number of USG officials to visit Oslo to make the public case on why the F-35 is an excellent choice, and the private case on why the choice of aircraft will have an impact on the bilateral relationship (see refs A,B)."

https://www.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/08OSLO670_a.html


Who knows ... maybe this guy : "The NSA problem ruined it for the Americans," a Brazilian government source said on condition of anonymity."


The U.S. has played dirty against the Saab Gripen before. See the Norwegian section of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saab_Gripen#Failed_bids


Not to mention also killing off Canada's Avro jet company.


I was actually taught about Avro in Canada in grade 5. Would have been about 1998 or so. I Some very interesting stories about the company, and hundreds of conspiracy theories as well. Very interesting company to say the least.


Didn't sound like the U.S. killed off Avro, as much as a new Canadian PM did.

But the U.S. did scoop up the ex-Avro employees to bootstrap their fledgling space program.


From your link it seems that, ironically, choosing the Gripen does not lessen the dependency on U.S. materials:

"Indian Air Force officials, while happy with the improved capabilities of Gripen NG, identified its high reliance on US-supplied hardware, including electronics, weaponry and the GE F414 engine"


I don't see how NSA scandal should affect this deal. You dont snap such major deals because you want to insult someone. That is childish. However if Brazil believed that US manufactures might help NSA in planting backdoors, malware into their equipment they could have simply stated it more publicly and done even greater damage to American companies.

The weapon manufacturers + US government nexus has changed world politics over last 50 years. In case of India and Pakistan, US has provided fuel to the conflict just to make more profit from this. Sooner or later the developed world is going to see through the US policy of benefiting from conflict. China is already self dependent in heavy arms manufacturing, India is slow but reaching there. In probably next 20 years, US monopoly on defense equipment will end.


Brazil did not state this publicly but everybody understood it that way. Boeing was definitely bound to install NSA malware in the fighter jets. Nobody has the slightest doubt about that.


I'm pretty confident in 20 years those countries will be 15 years behind USA weapons.


Really? Back in 1999 I could not have imagined that although in 2008 Georgia would invade S. Ossetia with the blessings of the USA, will get slapped by the Russian army that way and the USA will just ... do nothing about it.

Nor that in 2013 an NSA employee will be in Russia embarrassing the USA like this, without the USA doing nothing.

It's not that Obama is good and G. W. Bush is bad. It's more that the times are A changin'.


I seem to recall another empire once said that the sun would never set over it.


Good, this clearly isn't going to change because of moral reasons. The only way the US government is going to change direction on this is if it hurts them where they really care, which is "their" pocketbooks. "Their" in quotes because really it's the pocketbooks of the companies that give them millions to re-elect them.


A while back I came across this wiki article which is relevant

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON#Examples_of_industrial_...


Thanks i had no idea.

Long story short: while totally denying its existance the pact of USA, UK and many other countires spent billions of dollars to built sattelite-communication interceptinig facilities... while 99% of world's traffic moved into fiber optic undersea cables by 2006.


The lavabit case warns against using proprietary American software or services that use it or simply cloud services located in the USA. We know that the NSA will issue a gag order and demand that the software or service provider installs backdoors without telling his foreign clients. If US-based technology companies want to be considered as potential candidates, they will have to surrender the entire source code for the software and the full design specifications for the hardware, and pay for non-American experts to fully inspect it. Otherwise, no foreign company in their right mind will buy their gear any longer. The NSA-inspired breach of trust pretty much signifies the beginning of the end for US-originated technology exports to the rest of the world.


I consider this to be a good thing. Boeing is going to run to their lobbyists screaming bloody murder. The lobbyists will then ensure that the right palms are greased, the right fundraisers are held, and the right golf invitations are issued. Suddenly, there will be movement on the issue at the highest levels of government.

It is sad that this is how it works, and that it takes evidence of a large corporation losing money to be the catalyst for change. But at least it will work in our favor for once.


Just so you know, FRA and NSA are best buddies. FRA is the Swedish equivalent to NSA. http://www.svt.se/ug/fra-part-of-top-secret-hacker-project


Mirian Leitão is anti-governist and one of the main economical commenters of Brazilian media. She says that it was the NSA that kept Boing off the deal: http://oglobo.globo.com/economia/miriam/posts/2013/12/18/com...


"kept Boing ..."

It's Boeing, with an 'e'.

Mnemonic: "Boeing planes don't go boing." :)


In b-school, we talk a lot about political risk - mainly in terms of emerging economies. The US government's actions are resulting in events that will heighten investor perceptions of political risk here too.


Whatever Brazil loses in capability, Rouseff gets back in her relations with her neighbors. I guarantee there's isn't a head of state in South America that hasn't sent her an 'ataboy. Brazil even further establishes itself as the country that matters in South America. That's worth 36 planes that will never fire a shot in anger anyway...


The Gripen NG does not appear to be any less capable than the Super Hornet, with the exception of being single-engined as opposed to dual-engined.


Well this is interesting. Everyone including the Americans are up in arms about the NSA thing....right up until it gets blamed for a lost bid. Some weird psychological bias at work here though I can't quite put my finger on it.


Sounds like Brazil went with the low price leader (French comments were interesting) and didn't miss a chance to stick it in the eye of the US with a couple of anonymous quotes. If you follow the other logic it's pretty depressing "Yes, you had the better technology and were the preferred choice but we went with an inferior product because of spying and no that wouldn't make us feel really stupid if we get into a war with a neighbor who outguns us in the skies because they have better product at least we stuck it to the US in 2013!"


A third possible explanation could be (I do not know enough about US-Brazilian relations to know if it is plausible):

Before we thought you were an ally we could trust, so we were going to buy your overpriced jets to strengthen the friendship. Now that you have showed your true face we are going to go with the lowest bidder instead.

Saab has lost several bids due to countries buying worse planes from the US for diplomatic purposes.


India snubbed America in 2011 by not giving the 11 billion $ fighter jet deal, even though Obama lobbied for it.

Bad US behavior does impact their business . Expect similar action for the Indian Diplomat arrest case


While it's a good opportunity to take a political jab at the US, the F-18 was never a contender.

Both the Rafale and Gripen are much better choices. The Gripen especially, it's probably the best performing plane per dollar in the world - and has a lot of advantages besides sheer performance...


In other news: "Army officials claim that their ammunition stocks are going to last for just one hour of war"

http://www.brazildefence.com/army-officials-claim-that-their...

http://www.brazzilmag.com/home/113-august-2012/12921-one-hou...


As the article clearly says, this was an off-and-on deal rolling for years.

"Fan fact" the Brazilian government has been seating on this project to renew the aging Air Force's fleet since 1994.

And in 2001/2002 the contenters were (in no specific order):

    - Sukhoi Su-35
    - Eurofighter Typhoon
    - General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16
    - Mikoyan MiG-29
    - Saab JAS 39 Gripen
    - McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet
    - Dassault Rafale


> A U.S. source close to the negotiations said that whatever intelligence the spying had delivered for the American government was unlikely to outweigh the commercial cost of the revelations.

This to me is the most interesting quote. Although vague, you just have to wonder how much of this spy data goes to companies? Anyone can understand that the US has an interest in maintaining the importance of their own corporations around the world.


This is sickening. I live in Canada, and this directly affects a friend's family of mine considerably.

Both my friend and his father are full time factory workers at a company called "Goodrich". They machine landing gear primarily for Boeing jets.

This means less available-overtime at the very least (which many of the workers rely on), and possibly lost wage increases in the future. Who knows.


I sympathize with you, but Boeing never had a chance if one goes purely by cost: benefit comparisons.

The only way they could have won this is if they lobbied enough for the Brazilians to look past the significant shortcomings of the Boeing aircraft. And I think even then their lack of cooperation when it comes to transfer of technology and offsets would have sabotaged the deal.

Brazil already has a very reliable civilian aircraft maker in Embraer, and they are looking to bootstrap them into defense through transfer of technology. Boeing never would have done that.


Distrust is a very strong motivation to reject a bid. If Boeing had won the bid, the NSA would have armed themselves with a FISA court order, mandating Boeing to install malware in the fighter jets, along with a gag order forbidden Boeing to tell Brazil. Due to their massive internal audit problem, the one or the other rogue NSA contractor would end up selling off a copy of the specifications describing the backdoor to crime syndicates, who would then be able to blackmail the Brazilian government. To cut a long story short, it has now become impossible to buy any American technology product which contains proprietary software or hardware. It must now all be open source and open design and then reviewed by non-American experts at the expense of the American company trying to sell its gear.


Sweden sent five JAS39C Gripen to Libya as a part of Operation Unified Protector in 2011. I was told that they performed well in the surveilance role with their "spaningskapsel" (surveilance capsule?), providing intel to the coalition. If anyone has any insight in how well Gripen as a platform performed during that op, please share.


As I remember the F/A-18 was always considered a front runner for political reasons (pressure). It caused a lot of commotion among those who really understand about aeronautics.

And it's clear that the last choice was a political one also.


perhaps Brazil is just growing into its own. The BRIC countries are all maturing, and perhaps, with that comes a more independent - non US dependent - stance.


Didn't Saab go under? Or was that just their automotive division?


Only automotive, which was a separate company under GM stewardship. Same as how Volvo Cars (under Ford) went bust, but Volvo Trucks is still going well.


The end of US tech dominance is at hand.


off-topic:

I am thrilled to read incredible insightful comments in posts like this. HN intrinsic value is incredible.


This is fodder for wankers. Delude yourself if you like, but it only strengthens America.


That's fine as long as we keep Lockheed planes to ourselves. Nothing beats the F22.


The Gripen can land on a relatively short stretch of road, a team of six can get it ready for its next flight and it can take off from the same road. The F22 is not a STOL aircraft.

Given standard NATO practice of taking out the radar and the runways in the first few femto-seconds of a 'war', I think this feature makes the Gripen worthy of consideration.

That said, do features really matter in the arms trade?


> That said, do features really matter in the arms trade?

I dunno. Will the next serious war use planes at all? Or something smaller (I bet on smaller, for air and water)?

Anyway, Brazilian fighters are modeled to beat a defensive war against Venezuela. I guess the F22 is not the best fighter to use over the Amazon florest (but I don't know muh).


For water, the most cost effective is submarines, and has been submarines since before WWII. Big ships are an expensive way of giving the enemy some target practice.


The question isn't whether one F22 can beat one Gripen. The question is whether one F22 beats three Gripen (seeing as how the F22 is three times as expensive).


You're assuming 3 gripns will be able to find the f-22. F-22 shouldnt have to ever get close enough for an enemy to see/find them. F22 determines who will be able to see them.

5th gen fighter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth-generation_jet_fighter


Your comment is borderline idiotic. And you clearly don't understand the difference between multirole, flighter and attack jets.


I guess I am an idiot. Honestly HN is really turning into reddit.

Que more down votes! I will never get to that down vote feature threshold.


HN commentors takes things wayyyy to seriously.

edit: I come for the great links, the discussion are just a side effect of the awesome content.


This is the plane that asphyxiates it's pilots remember...

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/air-force-confirms-air-supply-pr...


"Fun fact" two of the worst accidents with the Saab JAS-39 Gripen were blamed on software faults.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saab_JAS_39_Gripen#cite_ref-FOO...

http://www.flightglobal.com/FlightPDFArchive/1989/1989%20-%2...


Yeah, Pilot Induced Oscillation. It was actually the same pilot too. Not to blame him though, of course.

Looking at the statistics though, the Gripen has been in very few accidents compared to other fighter jets.


It isnt the plane it is the vest. They were using a standard vest for a plane that can do things previous generations could not. Vector thrusting and some massive amount of thrust provided by those snazzy pratt and whitney F119 turbofans.


It was a problem with the Breathing Regulator/Anti-G (BRAG) valve supporting the Combat Edge vest, for F-22 pilots. F-16 pilots use almost the same vest, but the regulator and anti-G inflation valve setup is different.

The F-22 can sustain high Gs for longer which exacerbated the problem with the BRAG valve.


Thanks I wanst sure on the technical details. Nice to see the problem has been isolated to the valve.




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