Brazilians accuse the French fighter aircraft of high maintenance costs compared to its rivals, the Gripen (Saab) and F-18 (Boeing). This does not mean that the Rafale is out of play
"If Brazil had to select a fighter at the end of last year, the Rafale has not been selected," says a great connoisseur of Brazil "La Tribune". A perspective nonetheless. The fighter lights, manufactured by Dassault Aviation, has not escaped a commercial disaster. Simply because there was really more of an issue during a visit to Paris in December the president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff. Unlike many press articles saying the opposite.
In November, Brasilia warned Paris of postponing its decision on the choice of the future combat aircraft to equip the Air Force as part of the tender F-X2, which was extended several times. "Brasilia will make its decision in a timely manner," stressed early November the Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim, during a visit to Brasilia his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian. Especially, Reuters revealed in late September that Brazil did not take a decision until mid-2013 on the renewal of its fleet of combat aircraft, a contract valued at least four billion (3 billion euros). Lack of money in the coffers. "We pushed choice (...) and it will take some time depending on the time it will take the Brazilian economy to recover", said Dilma Rousseff during a joint press conference with François Hollande. President of Brazil favors the defense equipment to protect the marine resources Brazilian oil has other priorities, including social.
The flashing orange
A blessing in disguise so. But the orange lights are for the Rafale. That does not mean it is not out of the game Far from it. But "the French offer must be better explained or otherwise improved," says one to the "Tribune." What's wrong with the French proposal? Maintenance costs and the cost per flight hour of jet lights are considered too high criticism in Brazil, especially in the Air Force ... However, where there are many supporters of the Rafale. "This is the most technologically advanced aircraft, this is the best, says one. We have many things to learn cooperation with Dassault Aviation." But compared to the Gripen, a single engine, the latest version does not exist but delusional advance costs per flight hour (4,500 euros), Brazilians believe that the maintenance cost of the Rafale remains high. "While the budget goes to maintenance," one hears in Brazil. As for the F/A-18 Hornet (Boeing), another rival for the Rafale, it benefits from euro / dollar rate to be competitive with the French aircraft.
"To maintain a Rafale permanently, we need seven or eight mechanics, explained at the beginning of last year, the former Chief of Staff of the Air, General Jean-Paul Palomeros. For some of our competitors is almost double. maintenance cost of the aircraft is thereby reduced. It was one of the primary criteria in the design of the plane. " Dassault Aviation, explains that the number of mechanics can drop to four.According to experts, the Rafale has a cost of 39,000 euros per flight hour (costs 2006, prior to use new M88-4E). He was, according to the Ministry of Defence, decrease to 10,000 euros per flight hour for the Rafale C and B, and 7,000 euros for the Rafale M in 2012. Is it a simple lack of explanation? Possible."The rivals Dassault Aviation seems much he criticized the Rafale in the folder that angle, it says. Dassault to better communicate maintenance costs and costs per flight hour."
The Rafale has real assets
In addition to its technological lead over its rivals, the Rafale is again supported by an enabling environment between France and Brazil. The visit to Paris two days of Dilma Rousseff has been very positive, and contact with François Hollande went well. Brasilia guard preference geopolitical Paris, solidarity between playing middle powers fully. In addition, Brazil is very satisfied with its cooperation with France in the naval field. "It was not a foregone conclusion", says one in "La Tribune". DCNS naval group did a good job under the contract Prosub (sale of submarines) that works well. "It helps France," notes one does. Which is a guarantee of reliability for the Rafale for which significant transfers of technology are planned. And exclusive negotiations between Dassault Aviation and India are followed closely by a Brazilian team.Finally, there is a compatibility between the Brazilian aircraft carrier (the Sao Paulo, former Foch) and Charles de Gaulle. Hence the attractiveness of the Rafale to Brazil, including its marine version that might interest strongly Brasilia if Brazil adopts a new aircraft carriers with catapults. That would play out the Gripen NG (Saab) ... but not the F/A-18 Hornet (Boeing).
Reluctance must still be overcome. Besides the problem of the cost of maintaining the Rafale deal with its rivals, Paris must convince the principal Brazilian aircraft industry, Embraer looks for the Gripen. Just as industrial Sao Paulo, all attracted by the growth potential of the Swedish aircraft. "Everything depends on the quality of technology transfer imposed by the United States, the Gripen using many U.S. components," says one in Paris. But "the relationship with Embraer is strategically very important," recalls the connoisseur of Brazil. And the French start with a handicap. "Embraer has been underestimated by the French when they were shareholders of the Brazilian group (20% Safran, Dassault Aviation, EADS and Thales, ed), says one. He was not treated as a true partner. Brazilians had the impression that the French simply wanted control Embraer for better control. " And remember that Embraer is a competitor of Dassault Aviation business jet. "However, Boeing was much more of a partner," says one. The two companies have signed a partnership program of Brazilian lightweight fighter, Super Tucano.