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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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  • by CapeDoryBob (204240) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @09:39AM (#45735743)

    Read the NY Times article. The SAAB is much cheaper to operate. Looking at it, I think of it as an updated Northrop F5.

  • Re:About time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @09:45AM (#45735819)
    At this point, I think it's inevitable that spying will be a central issue in the 2016 Presidential election, and neither party will dare to defend the status quo. Corporate campaign donors are starting to see the economic implications, and they'll be raising a hell of a fuss by the time two more years have gone by.
  • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @09:51AM (#45735895)

    ... and easier to maintain as well. The Saab Gripen is an awesome aircraft and a good choice. On the other hand the Gripens do still have lots of US parts in them so it's not as if US companies don't stand to gain, they'll just gain less. Theoretically the USA can even veto the sale because of the US parts in the Gripen if they want to be really petty about this and piss the Brazilians off even more. The most delicious part of this development (from the point of view of Airbus, EADS, Sukhoi, Dassault et al) is that Boeing, a long time beneficiary of US government sponsored industrial espionage, has been hosted by it's own petard for a change.

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

    by Ogi_UnixNut (916982) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:01AM (#45736017) Homepage

    If that is their worry, then buying any NATO countries produce would not help them. AFAIK The SAAB Gripens use American engines, avionics and components. Apart from the airframe and the final country of assembly (and some local parts), they are not really making much a difference as far trust of the hardware goes.

    If that was the real worry, then you'd have to buy someone elses (probably Russian), but they went out of the race a while ago.

  • Re:Aircraft facts (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Optimal Cynic (2886377) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:11AM (#45736145)

    It's comparable to the Eurofighter. Except that the JAS 39 NG has the much better radar.

    It's in no way comparable to the Eurofighter. The JAS aircraft actually works, it's not a political football, it's not a vast waste of scarce defence money and it is fit for purpose. The Eurofighter fits none of those criteria.

  • Re:Yay! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jcdr (178250) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:13AM (#45736181)

    For Brazil it's better to have a Gripen with a full control of his maintenance, than having a USA fighter with a political dependency for his maintenance. The question is not to have the best fighter, the question is to have a fighter that are operational in any political situation.

  • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Luckyo (1726890) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:17AM (#45736219)

    Fun detail: our large intercity older roads are actually not that straight for most part, as they are intended to be repairable after B-52/TU-95 does a carpet bombing run. Large roads tend to slightly curve back and forth, so carpet bombing from a bomber flying in a straight line would miss most of its load. This makes road repairs much easier.

    Side roads on the other hand are often designed to be functional as small air strips, so they are straight.

  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:20AM (#45736259) Homepage

    I guarantee you that our "friends" spy on us, especially for economic information. The problem I have with the NSA is that they spy on American citizens. It is THEIR JOB to spy on foreign citizens and governments.

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

    by gl4ss (559668) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:22AM (#45736287) Homepage Journal

    they have source to the avionics, the radar etc.

    it is normal procedure to buy it so that you as the buyer have the source, at least finland does even for the hornets(the smaller non-super) and there has been domestic modifications to the fw. certainly the swedes do for the components they buy from usa and code sharing has been a part of their negotiation tactics.

    and last time I checked, Sweden wasn't a NATO country and has no intention of being one either. norway is and that's how norway was pressured into buying f35's and not gripens(the leaked cables reveal all about it)... the 3rd country in the race was france and they are a nato country.

  • by Voice of satan (1553177) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:34AM (#45736455)

    SAAB has made many concessions over the transfer of technology. I wonder how it will work out. Plus they propose to "make" them in Brazil. I wonder how much it will cost them since embraer has to outsource the assembly of many of their planes in Europe to be cost efficient.

    The Gripen has many parts which are originated from the USA. The volvo engine used by current Gripens is a modified general electrics one. No small part of their electronics is American too. Besides, the Gripen NG now exists only on paper. It has short range and carry little ordinance. Best contender wasn't the F18 but the Dassault Rafale. Except in the US press of course. The French were ready to make a technology tranfer the americans would have never accepted, with good reasons. The Brazilians and the French already cooperate closely on Brazil's future nuclear submarines and that was supposed to seal a military alliance between the two countries. Sarkozy had even agreed to buy some Brazilian tranports France doesn't need to sweeten the deal.

    And everyone who is even slightly interested in defense matters know the everyone which has the means spy on everyone. The Brazilian military knew this like the others Snowden or no Snowden.

    The ones who rage and are really surprised now are the French, no the US.

  • by Shinobi (19308) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:40AM (#45736549)

    Ah yes, that report, written by Dassault themselves, even in the face of Gripen curbstomping Rafale in red flag excercises, and Gripen proving that it was better at strike missions in Libya.

    Basically, Dassault has such a foothold in the Swiss Air Force that they can write the requirements and testing specs to favour Dassault. It's like trying to sell Gripen or Typhoon to the US or Russian Air Forces.....

  • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @10:57AM (#45736763)

    I believe so too, JAS Gripen squadrons have impressive results from Red Flag
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Flag_exercise [wikipedia.org]

    The Gripen is also designed to interface with the compact Ericsson Erieye AWAC system which is often mounted on either a Saab 2000 turbo-prop airliner to cuts costs and eases maintenance but you can also build the Erieye into a small jet like the Brazilian EMB-145. I remember reading somewhere that the Swedish air force actually had to downgrade it's data-links in order to become NATO compatible so this combination is a good force multiplier. The one caveat with the Gripen is that Brazil had better keep a stockpile of Gripen spares. If they ever get into involved in a shooting war the parts supply from Sweden will dry up faster than you can say 'embargo'.

  • Re:Political theater (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Henriok (6762) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @11:13AM (#45736937)

    The fact that the military didn't even know about this snap-decision

    The decision might seem sudden but Brasil have already chose Gripen in several occasions during the last 10 years. Those decisions have been interrupted by sudden economic downturn, and corruption, political instability and other stuff. Gripen seems to have been favored by the Brasilian military and Industry all these years though, and since all competitors are eliminated du to various reasons (technical, political, corruption, cost), there was no reason not to take the decision now.

  • Boeing Decisions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @11:25AM (#45737073)

    This might change some of Boeing's thinking with regard to relocating their commercial operations. Back when I worked there (before McDonald Douglas took over), Boeing Commercial Aircraft was largely a stand alone enterprise. In fact, there was some talk about spinning off the military and aerospace divisions. That changed after the merger and some of the recent reorganizations have combined commercial and military aircraft engineering groups.

    But if the rest of the world perceives Boeing as being a tool of the USA's political/military complex, they might want to reconsider tainting their successful commercial jet business with that reputation. The F/A-18 deal is lost. But the company will really be up a creek if they start losing commercial sales as well.

  • by Shinobi (19308) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @12:38PM (#45737871)

    The official mission was recon, but their RoE didn't preclude strikes, if there was a pressing need.

    2 times, 39's simultaneously engaged and destroyed multiple ground targets, and at least 3 other times they provided the target data to Rafale's(Too bad 39's have to run with reduced datalink capacity to interface with NATO planes, including the Rafale)

    As for Dassault involvement, they are issuing bearer bonds to Swiss politicians, Dassault "consultants" are working as personal advisors to at least 3 defense ministry officials, and are also suspects in the brewing indian bribery scandal regarding the Rafale procurement. Keep in mind, SAAB and the Swedish government have sidestepped BAE for the Swiss procurement, because BAE is too corrupt, and Dassault has an operational record just as dirty as that of BAE, Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, with the belgian scandal being just one of them.

    When general Gygax made a revised statement of operational capacity after 2010, when Gripen NG showed off the planned abilities, there was an immediate lobbying blitz and further bearer bonds thrown in the direction of parliament and defense ministry.

    In fact, Dassault are still pushing the 2006-2008 evaluations to the swiss parliament, completely ignoring the post-2010 evaluations. They even willfully broke the rules of the tender by attempting to renegotiate after the bidding timeframe was closed.

  • by Shinobi (19308) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @01:01PM (#45738125)

    Downgrade is the proper term, since it is a move to a highly inferior system that cripples the planes performance. The Swedish data link system fully integrates between land, air and sea forces as well as ground-based weather telemetry stations etc.

  • Re:Boohoo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Shinobi (19308) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @01:29PM (#45738365)

    "When Russia brought planes (don't remember if it was bomb planes or not) to Gotland and later close to where FRA (our surveillance agency) was operating they never seemed to get any planes up into the air regardless. We have very few at stand by for such activities."

    They never actually crossed into Swedish territory, but the mission orders was a practice run on a trajectory suitable for bombing FRA. And yes, it was 2 bombers and 4 fighters. The issue, however, of Swedish fighters not scrambling is entirely political. Carl Bildt want his russian oil and gas money, and further pats on the back from the US, same with Reinfeldt, so they'll continue to cripple the Swedish Armed Forces.

  • Re:Boohoo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by macpacheco (1764378) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @03:21PM (#45739657)

    Then stop running Hummers, and other gas guzzlers. I lived in the USA for a while, in Texas it looks like everybody has a big pickup truck with cargo capacity they don't need just to drive a single person to/back from work every day.
    The US can save US$ 5B every week if they stopped the oil insanity !
    Recently US congress killed a research project to make US aircraft carriers self sufficient in jet fuel (using heat from nuclear reactors, H2O from sea water, CO2 also from sea water, producing Jet Fuel).
    And the american people said nothing.
    Your trade imbalance is 100% your own fault (american people letting the Oil / Coal special interest tell the US govt what to do).
    You guys need lots of Nuclear energy now.
    The US could be a major oil exporter (exporting half what is produces) by 2030 if you just stopped being so energy irresponsible.
    Brazil also has plenty of cheap energy, we have lots of Hydro and Natural Gas electricity, and a ton of Oil.
    If it wasn't for our own govt incompetence, we'd be net exporting 20-30% of our Oil production already.
    This Gripen NG decision was one of the few smart decisions I saw the Brazilian govt doing in a long time (we have just as many insanities as the USA, except we're not considered a developed country anyways).

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