Looks like the Rafale is out of the running in Brazil.
A decision still seems to be a ways off for for Brazil's F-X2 fighter competition. Intended to replace its interim second hand Mirage 2000Cs (Brazil's Mirage IIIs have been retired), Brazil has been considering the Dassault Rafale, the Boeing F-18E/F Super Hornet, and the Saab Gripen E/F. It now looks like the Rafale will no longer be considered due to price concerns.
This is bad news for Dassault, which hasn't seen its deal with India move as smooth at it would like, and French production has been slowed for budgetary reasons. The Rafale is on the list of potential fighter choices for Canada and other countries, but its increasingly looking like a longshot when pitted against industry giants like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and the Eurofighter consortium.
The Rafale would have been a great fit for Brazil. Transition from its current Mirage fleet would have been a snap, and the Rafale M would make a great contender to replace aging A-4 Skyhawks in use on Brazil's Sãu Paulo aircraft carrier.
|Boeing Advanced Super Hornet|
As is the case with modern times, however, cost is the ultimate trump card. Both the Gripen and the Super Hornet are far cheaper to procure than the Rafale, and the Gripen particularly would be cheaper to operate. The Super Hornet is already cleared to operate from aircraft carriers however, so it could be the favorite if Brazil wishes a common fleet. One strike against it, however, is recent political fallout over NSA spying allegations.
|Saab's proposed "Sea Gripen".|
Then again, Saab has been looking for a reason to modify the Gripen for carrier use. Although not initially developed with carrier operations in mind. The Gripen's short runway requirements and small size make it a fairly easy conversion, according to Saab.
Could bad news for Dassault mean good news for Saab or Boeing? Could the Rafale's dismissal from Brazil's F-X2 lead to development of the Sea Gripen? Or could it help Boeing keep Super Hornet production running just a little longer?
Then again, with the possibility of Boeing shutting down Super Hornet production by 2015, if Brazil's F-X2 decision takes much longer, it may be left with choosing the Gripen simply by default.