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December 19, 2013

US loses out on Brazil jet contracts amidst spying revelations

NSA spying on Brazil causing industry repercussions.

By Ben Sullivan

After a lengthy process, Brazil’s government has said that Sweden’s Saab won a fighter jet contract initially worth $4.5bn that will supply at least 36 aircraft to the country.

Also in the bidding competition were France’s Dassault Rafale and Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet, which was originally tipped to be the obvious winner.

Analysts are saying that Boeing’s bid was seriously damaged by the Snowden revelations that unearthed the NSA’s extensive spying on the South American country, including direct targeting of President Dilma Rousseff’s own communications.

The bidding for the contract started some 15 years ago, with Brazil wanting to increase its defence capabilities along its land borders and better protection for its offshore oil fields.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said on Twitter to call the decision "a tribute to Swedish technology and competitiveness."

The spying revelations are the most likely factor in Saab being chosen.

"Dilma had been favoring the Boeing plane and a lot of people thought she would announce her decision during her state visit to Washington," said David Fleischer, a political scientist at the University of Brasilia.

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"Boeing was very close, but then the NSA booted them out of the air."

Dilma Rousseff cancelled the state visit to Washington in October amidst increased political tensions.

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