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US Spying Costs Boeing Military Jet Deal With Brazil 439

Posted by timothy
from the voting-with-your-reals dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a Reuters report shedding light on one consequence of increasing knowledge of the extent of U.S. government spying: "Brazil awarded a $4.5 billion contract to Saab AB on Wednesday to replace its aging fleet of fighter jets, a surprise coup for the Swedish company after news of U.S. spying on Brazilians helped derail Boeing's chances for the deal. ... The timing of the announcement, after more than a decade of off-and-on negotiations, appeared to catch the companies involved by surprise. Even Juniti Saito, Brazil's top air force commander, said on Wednesday that he only heard of the decision a day earlier in a meeting with President Dilma Rousseff. Until earlier this year, Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet had been considered the front runner. But revelations of spying by the U.S. National Security Agency in Brazil, including personal communication by Rousseff, led Brazil to believe it could not trust a U.S. company."
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US Spying Costs Boeing Military Jet Deal With Brazil

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  • Aircraft facts (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 19, 2013 @09:54AM (#45735927)

    Just for info : they have decided for the better plane.
    The JAS SuperGrippen (Grippen NG) has a much larger ferry and combat range (twice as much as the F/A18), is a lot faster (Mach 2.2, even faster than the F35), more agile AND cheaper both in initial costs and per flight hour. It's comparable to the Eurofighter. Except that the JAS 39 NG has the much better radar.
    It has a bit lower weapon payload, though (5.3 metric ton (JAS39) vs 6 metric ton (F/A18)). But for the cost of one american plane, you can buy two JAS39 and thus have air superiority.

  • by heson (915298) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @09:58AM (#45735963) Journal
    NSA has been good to US companies in the past, sometimes it fails. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON#Examples_of_industrial_espionage [wikipedia.org]
  • Re:Yay! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:02AM (#45736025)

    They made the right choice as long as they don't need to use what ever they get as a replacement. We still make the best planes over here.

    Even the people at f-16.net [f-16.net] appears to like Gripen more. The consensus seems to be that F-16 is a better at carrying loads at long distances but Gripen in better in direct combat or situations where maneuverability is of importance.
    In any training missions where both planes were used Gripen came out ahead.

    The thing is that the designs are different for a reason. Gripen is designed to defend a relatively small airspace against intruding planes. The F-16 have sacrificed some of this ability to make it more usable as a medium range offensive unit.

    So if you want to take out tanks in Iraq, go for F-16. If you want to defend yourself against F-16, use Gripen.

    I don't know what you mean with "over here" but I'm pretty sure you don't mean over at Boeing.

  • Re:Yay! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Optimal Cynic (2886377) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:05AM (#45736055)
    F-18, not F-16. Honestly, reading the article might be too much effort but at least try reading the summary now and again.
  • Re:About time (Score:4, Informative)

    by cusco (717999) <brian@bixby.gmail@com> on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:13AM (#45736175)

    You don't get to invent your own definitions just to satisfy your own ignorance. The phrase has a very clear definition and has for over half a century, arising out of the Cold War.

    Second World - Soviet Union, eastern European countries they dominated, Yugoslavia, sometimes China

    Third World - Everyone Else

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:17AM (#45736215)

    I live in Brazil and you couln't be more wrong. We have a consolidated democracy and will elect a new president in 2014 (and governors), it's that simple. Yes, we do have a massive income distribution program, but it's not used politically as much as it have could been.

  • Political theater (Score:3, Informative)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:21AM (#45736275) Journal

    The fact that the military didn't even know about this snap-decision (after TEN YEARS of "on again, off again" negotiations) shows that Dilma Rousseff is simply stomping her little feet angrily at the US. The US/Brazil relationship has always been touchy - Brazil is hypersensitive, and the US *was* overbearing and arrogant.

    Ms Rousseff is either acting or stupid. Let's be absolutely candid: Brazil is NOT a first-world country. I would imagine that *any* first-world security agency that has wanted to spy on Brazil HAS been spying on Brazil. Frankly, the only people not spying on Brazil would be anyone who doesn't give a shit about Brazil, and for Ms Rousseff (or anyone with a brain) to not recognize that is simply ignorant or in denial.

    She has public constituencies to salve, and is merely making political capital out of the always-useful-bogeyman, the US. That they decided on SAAB in such a snap decision suggests to me, in fact, that they'd qualified either vendor to their own standards, and were just waiting for the bribes/'compensations' to rise to the level that finally justified selecting one vendor or the other.

  • Re:Remote control? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Luckyo (1726890) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:25AM (#45736341)

    F-18 E/F (aka super hornet) mainly differs from C/D varians (normal hornet) in size. It's the same air frame with increased size, enabling it to carry more load.
    It's reason for existence is in the cancelled naval F-22 variant, which meant that US Navy needed replacement for F-14s quickly. F-18 C/D didn't have the size to carry enough fuel for the maritime patrol tasks, so size was increased in E/F variant, which enabled it to carry more fuel and weapons.

    Calling it a "whole new beast" is a bold faced lie. It's the same airframe that was enlarged with minor evolutionary upgrades at best.

  • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hadlock (143607) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:51AM (#45736687) Homepage Journal

    The areas needing defending is an area the size of Israel (New Jersey) surrounding Rio and Sao Paul, the meager capital city of Brasilia, and a thin strip of settlements down the coast 10 miles wide running south to Uruguay. The interior has virtually no infrastructure, certainly no highway system of note. Major inland port city Manus is only reachable by air or water 7 months out of the year.

  • Re:Boohoo (Score:4, Informative)

    by q.kontinuum (676242) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @11:10AM (#45736913)

    For some reason I have the feeling that most Americans didn't see much of a problem in the spying on other countries.

    Nope. Not a bit. Any more than anyone else sees a problem with their country spying on other countries.

    Or are you silly enough to believe that YOUR country doesn't spy on other countries?

    Maybe my country does, although I consider them quite incompetent in this regard. The difference is that I still find it problematic, and so do most of my friends here. Another difference is that most people I know accept that other countries will react on the aggression of our government, and that it is our responsibility to rally against it.

  • Re:Boohoo (Score:3, Informative)

    by 228e2 (934443) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @11:55AM (#45737407)
    People pay into their own unemployment, that isnt tax subsidized. You're thinking about welfare/foodstamps/ just about every other public assistance program except unemployment.
  • Re:Boohoo (Score:5, Informative)

    by macpacheco (1764378) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @02:55PM (#45739339)

    The Super Hornet was never the favorite of the Brazilian Air Force.
    Unlike other serious govts in the world, here we had the favorite of the Air Force and the favorite of the president.
    It was the favorite of the Air Force because:
        - Lower cost both procurement and operational costs (I could joke there my Brazil don't have an air force, instead it has an air farce)
        - better air to air performance (let's face it, Brazil hasn't had a single bomb dropped in a military operation since WWII, what we need is air defense, the Super Hornet excels at being a bomb truck, even US Army Hornet pilots have admitted the SH leaves something to be left desired against even a much older Mig29 in a dog fight)
        - Generation 2 AESA radar with full technology transfer
        - Full technology transfer on the aircraft itself
        - Local manufacturing of most aircraft under license
        - Prospect of a partnership in future Gripen upgrades, Embraer will be the Brazilian partner on this, they have a world class track record on military and civilian aircraft sales, which dwarfs SAAB experience with exporting aircraft
        - You see, Boeing x Embraer would never be a really good partnership, Boeing is a competitor of Embraer in many markets (my forecast is Embratel will eventually produce a 737 sized aircraft, then they would become a full fledged competitor, but even the E-jets compete with 737 despite of the size difference)
        - The only advantage the SH had was it could be used on our single aircraft carrier, that stays in port the vast majority of the time

    The espionage scandal was just a good excuse to get back to basics and do the right thing.
    Buying the SH would have been a bad economic decision anyways.
    Brazil needs cheap military hardware, no F35's for us, ever. Even the SH would be too expensive in the long run (twin engine, part costs, fuel consumption)

    Realize the Brazil is operating F-5E, Mirage 2000, subsonic AMX, all aircraft that are cheap to operate.

  • Re:Boohoo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bacon Bits (926911) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @04:11PM (#45740165)

    I, like the vast majority of the US, am neither a shareholder nor employee of Boeing. Explain to me how this costs me a lot of money.

    That US$4 billion doesn't just go to a safe at Boeing to rot for the next thousand years.

    A portion of it goes to purchasing the materials used to manufacture the airplanes and the necessary maintenance parts for them. Each of these things, when sold, incur sales and export taxes that go to our state and federal governments. The purchases -- some of which come from other US companies -- cause the same effect to them as happens to Boeing.

    A portion of it goes to the employees at Boeing, some of which only get jobs because of this contract. Those employees pay taxes on this income, which goes to our state and federal governments. Additionally, those employees go out and purchase things with this money they earn as a direct consequence of this contract, which, again, causes the same kinds of things to happen whenever money moves (taxes, etc.). All those people that had goods purchased from them made more money, too!

    A portion of the funds may be kept in reserve for corporate profits or other holdings, but these moneys still do not rot in a safe somewhere. They are invested mutual funds, treasury bills, insurance investments, stocks, bonds, etc. This means even the money that Boeing *doesn't* spend still gets used in the economy by loaning it out to people that need it. Oh, and, of course, any profits here get taxed by the federal government as well.

    All those monies that end up in state and federal governments go towards services provided to our nation: funding the army, social security, police, fire departments, transportation departments, education departments. You know, everything that lets us maintain our standard of living. That money doesn't disappear, either. The people working those jobs earn those tax dollars as salary, and spend those tax dollars on materials just like any other business.

    This is how economies work: moving money around and creating incremental value, while losing a percentage to taxation. Money doesn't *disappear* unless you literally take it out and burn it or bury it. That US$4 billion purchase probably creates ten times that value in economic power by greasing the wheels of our economy.

    Now, the NSA's illegal and abusive policies have cost the US billions in foreign investments, and that means hundreds of millions in tax dollars and hundreds of jobs over a decade or more. It's very difficult to justify a national security policy that significantly impacts your foreign policy and your economic policy.

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