Brazil picks Swedish JAS-39 Fighter over US F/A-18 and French Rafale – NSA to thank?

Sweden’s Saab edged out French and US rivals to win a multi-billion-dollar contract to supply Brazil’s air force with 36 new fighter jets, Defense Minister Celso Amorim said Wednesday.

Saab’s Gripen NG [Next Generation] was in competition with the Rafale made by France’s Dassault company and US aviation giant Boeing’s F/A-18 fighter for the long-deferred FX-2 air force replacement program.

Full article here.

The Brazil Air Force wanted the Swedish fighter, as it was less expensive both in purchase and to use, something that would give the pilots more flight/training time. The Brazil politicians were leaning towards the F/A-18 Super Hornet from Boeing, in an attempt to stay friendly with the US. However, after the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that NSA had been intercepting calls and messages on the cell phone of the Brazilian president, sentiments in the government shifted. Many blame the NSA surveillance for the lost order:

Is Boeing the First American Company to Lose Business Thanks to the NSA Scandal? (
‘NSA ruined it!’ Brazil ditches Boeing jets, grants $4.5 bln contract to Saab (

This is the second time that SAAB and it’s JAS 39 Gripen beat out the French Dassault Rafale fighter. In 2011 Switzerland picked JAS 39 NG over Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon.

JAS39 Brazil


Apart from the article in Slate, US media has been fairly silent on this. As I write this, neither CNN, MSNBC or Fox News has reported on it yet. The current top news on all those sites is that a bearded duck hunter from the Lousiana swamps featured in a show on a cable channel don’t like homosexuals, and thus have been suspended from the show, and that an Indian diplomat had been arrested for visa fraud and strip searched. Ironically, India is another country who are considering JAS 39 for a modernisation of their air force, competing (again) with Rafale, Typhoon and F/A-18 Super Hornet for an order of 126 fighters, worth over 16 billion dollar.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Steve

    I assume this is more a capability issue than a NSA issue.
    The Swedish JAS-39 was first used in 1997. The F/A-18 was first used in 1983. The F/A-18 is almost twice as old the JAS-39. Many countries are already replacing F/A-18 with newer more capable jets, it doesn’t make sense to be buying new ones.

  2. Christian Tillmanns

    Boeing offered the Super Hornet, which is a different beast than the orginal F/A 18. Quite a bit bigger. First flight was in ’95 and entered service in ’99. Therefore not older than the Grippen.
    The NSA scandal has certainly not helped Boeing.

  3. Christian Christensen

    Weapon bussiness seldom look logical to the world outside the politics of it.
    Sometimes the military gets want the want, like in this case, sometimes not, and it appears like external political agendas have been involved.

    This deal will still be a win-win thing for USA as there are many american parts in JAS Gripen, I dont know the number but have read that about 30% is american parts, the rest Swedish tech.

    After reading alot on the net about airfighters, they all seem to have been developed for different purposed with different caracteristics.

    JAS gripen was developed for certain needs, and it fits some countries, just like the amercian developed airfighters were developed from the needs of its country, and that fits certain countries.

    Brazil have the 7th biggest BNP, which means that there are enough money there to buy what ever airfighter they want. The Brazil military got what they asked for, JAS 39 Gripen.

    The most important in the end is that all countries will develop enough good foreign politics so we can without some kind of world peace.

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