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Brazil may buy F-18 jets

Brasilia, Dec 10 (IANS/EFE) The Brazilian air force, awaiting the outcome of the selection process for purchasing 36 fighter jets, is leaning toward the F-18 Super Hornet of the US, which is competing against the French Rafale and the Swedish Gripen, Istoe magazine said.

The weekly magazine published a document it attributes to the commission in charge of analyzing the three aircraft, which concludes that the Boeing F-18 is best suited to air force requirements and notes several of its advantages in terms of price and benefits.

According to the document, the least costly of the three jets being tendered are the Gripen of the Swedish firm Saab, the entire fleet being offered for $4.3 billion.

However, "this is an aircraft still in development and has never been tried in combat", the commission said.

In the case of the Rafale from the French company Dassault, the 36 aircraft would cost $8.2 billion, while the Boeing F-18s would entail an outlay of $5.4 billion.

According to the magazine, what goes against choosing the Rafale jets aside from its initial price is the fact that an hour’s flight costs some $20,000, compared with $10,000 for the F-18s.

The document acquired by Istoe magazine says that Boeing has agreed to the technology transfer required by the Brazilian government to close the deal and has also offered to open a center for high technology in Brazil if it gets the contract.

The tender process is currently suspended due to the government’s deep budget cuts intended to ease the impact of the world economic crisis.

Nonetheless, defense authorities have stated that the final decision could be taken early next year.