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Brazil: WikiLeaks and doubts over technology transfer in French fighters

The WikiLeaks website has released a document that raises doubts about the main reason behind the Brazilian interest to buy French fighter aircraft: the possibility of transferring the technology of construction. According to a dispatch that Counselor Minister Lisa Kubiske sent to Brasilia in November 2009, many components of the French aircrafts are manufactured in the USA, as indicated by one of the last cables published by Wikileaks in Portuguese [pt]:

Para Lisa, a campanha francesa é mentirosa: ‘Nos últimos meses, o esforço francês de vendas vem se baseando em alegações enganosas, se não fraudulentas, de que seu caça envolve apenas conteúdo francês (o que o isentaria dos incômodos controles de exportação dos Estados Unidos). Mas isso não procede. Uma análise da Administração de Segurança da Tecnologia de Defesa encontrou alta presença de conteúdo norte-americano, o que inclui sistemas de mira, componentes de radar e sistemas de segurança que requererão licenças norte-americanas”.

For Lisa, the French campaign is lying: ‘In recent months, the French sales effort has been based on misleading claims, if not fraudulent, that his fighters involves only French contents (what would exempt it from the cumbersome export controls in the U.S.).But that's not right. An analysis of the Defense Technology Security Administration (DTSA) has found a high presence of U.S. contents there which includes targeting systems, radar components and safety systems, all that will require licenses from U.S.

Ricardo Stuckert/Ag. Brasil /Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Brazil

The question about the French independence in manufacturing the machinery still stand. But, there are no doubts about the close relationship between Dilma, Lula and Sarkozy, as could be seen in the G-20 summit last month.

Until now, the fighter Rafale, made by the French company Dassault, has been the favourite to win the bid against the Gripen NG made by Sweden's Saab and the F-18 Super Hornet made by the American company Boeing. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has pledged to share the entire manufacturing technology with Brazil, which would be difficult with the U.S., who would need the approval of the US Congress, or with Swedes who also use technology from the United States. It is considered vital to know if the French depends on Americas, as the blog dedicated to aviation Poder Aéreo questions:

Se for verdade essa informação do WikiLeaks, a suposta independência dos EUA, ao adquirir o Rafale, não passa de uma ilusão. Ficaremos, no mínimo, duplamente dependentes: dos EUA e da França e sabe-se lá de quem mais.

Qual seria a porcentagem de tecnologia americana, supostamente utilizada pelo Rafale, que depende de autorização dos EUA, para a comercialização desse avião francês?

Basta, apenas, um único item crítico, tangível ou não, que necessite dos EUA, para ficar na dependência indesejada. O WikiLeaks faz referência ao uso de componentes no plural, portanto o Rafale não utiliza um único item de domínio americano. Se pudessem, salvo melhor juízo, os franceses não utilizariam nenhum item, ou tecnologia, que os colocassem perante a sujeição americana.”

If the information from WikiLeaks is true, the supposed independence on the USA, by means of buying the Rafale, is nothing but an illusion. We will be at least doubly dependent: on U.S. and on France, and who knows on who else.

What would be the supposedly percentage of American technology used by the Rafale, one which will depend on U.S. approval to put the French aircraft to the market ?

One important single item, tangible or not, requiring U.S. approval is just enough to leave us on an unwanted dependency. The WikiLeaks refers to components in plural so that the Rafale does not use only one item from the American domain. If they could, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the French would not use any item or technology that would leave them to be subject to the USA.

Whether the France can pass the software codes on to Brazil or not is still unknown. The French have been Brazilian partners in the National Defense Plan – a program which includes the Armed Forces equipment upgrade. Lula signed an agreement with Nicolas Sarkozy in 2009 estimated to be worth R$24 billion (USD 13 billion) to assemble 50 helicopters and five submarines in Brazil using French technology. For many bloggers, the United States are jealous of the relationship between France and Brazil as highlighted by O Informante [pt] in the post, ‘Lula and Sarkozy, ‘a love affair’ that annoys some':

(…) o governo americano vê com preocupação a proximidade cada vez maior do presidente da França, Nicolas Sarkozy, com o Brasil. Em duas mensagens para Washington, o embaixador dos Estados Unidos em Paris, Charles Rivkin, analisa a aliança franco-brasileira como uma estratégia de Sarkozy para ampliar a influência da França no mundo e, sobretudo, na América Latina.

(…) o embaixador americano faz um comentário polêmico, alegando que Sarkozy usa sua mulher, a ex-modelo Carla Bruni, para atrair os brasileiros. Em seu relato, ele destaca que “o público brasileiro ficou decepcionado” com o fato de Sarkozy não ter levado a primeira-dama em sua última viagem ao país.(…)

Sempre em tom alarmista, o embaixador avisa a Washington que o próprio Lula tem repetido a intenção do Brasil em tornar-se uma potência mundial e vê na autonomia militar e tecnológica o caminho para isso.

Sugerindo alguma familiaridade com a negociação, ele destaca, entre as promessas da França, “dar aos Rafale brasileiros os códigos dos softwares que representam o coração digital do avião, passo que outros concorrentes relutavam em fornecer.”

(…) the U.S. government is concerned about the increasing proximity of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Brazil. In two messages to Washington, the U.S. ambassador in Paris, Charles Rivkin, analyzes the Franco-Brazilian alliance as Sarkozy's strategy to expand France influence in the world and especially in Latin America.

(…) The American ambassador makes a controversial comment, saying that Sarkozy uses his wife, former model Carla Bruni, to attract Brazilians. In his report, he notes that “the Brazilian public was disappointed” with the fact that Sarkozy did not take the first lady on his last trip to the country . (…)

Using always an alarmist tone, the ambassador warns Washington that Lula himself has repeated many times his intention to turn Brazil into a world power, and sees the military and the technological autonomy as a way to it.

Indicating some familiarity with the negotiation, he points out some of France's promises, such as “giving the Brazilian the Rafale software codes that represent the heart of the digital plane, while other competitors were reluctant to provide.”

The 36 Jet Fighters’ billion dollar deal is at stake, and Minister Kubiske urged Washington to have a more aggressive position in the bidding process, as WikiLeaks reveal:

Mas desde maio de 2009, a embaixada americana em Brasília tenta fazer com que o governo dos EUA se engaje mais na disputa. Em um telegrama do dia 19, (CLIQUE AQUI), a Ministra Conselheira Lisa Kubiske pediu que Washington faça um lobby mais intenso, pois alguns contatos brasileiros “dizem não acreditar que o governo dos Estados Unidos esteja apoiando a venda fortemente”, enquanto o presidente francês Nicholas Sarcozy estaria envolvido diretamente e os suecos estariam atuando “em nível ministerial”.

But since May 2009, the American Embassy in Brasilia has tried to persuade the US government to engage more in the dispute. In a telegram on the 19th, (CLICK HERE), the Counselor Minister Lisa Kubiske urged Washington to make a more intense lobby, because some Brazilian sources “say they not believe the U.S. government is just strongly supporting the sale”, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy would be directly involved and the Swedes were acting “at the ministerial level”.

In Blog da Cidadania's [pt] opinion, the Brazilian press have lobbied in favor of the U.S.:

O Brasil firmou há anos um acordo de cooperação estratégico-militar-financeira-cultural com a França, o que desagrada aos americanos porque querem ter o controle não só do seu “quintal” (as três Américas), mas do mundo inteiro – ou queriam ter, mas vão descobrindo que não podem. Esse acordo nos permitirá dominar o ciclo de produção cem por cento autônoma de aviões de guerra, sobretudo em situações de conflito.(…)

Enfim, o fato é que toda a comunidade internacional sabe que a imprensa brasileira está fazendo o jogo dos americanos. E, para que isso não fique muito evidente, essa imprensa – Folha, Estadão, Globo e Veja, sobretudo – diz que o avião americano é o “melhor”, mas que o avião sueco seria a solução de consenso por o negócio oferecer maior transferência de tecnologia, apesar de o Gripen ser inferior ao avião americano, mas superior ao francês.

Brazil signed a military-financial-cultural strategic cooperation agreement with France years ago, which annoyed the Americans because they want to control not only their “backyard ” (the three Americas), but also the whole world – or would want to, as they have discovered they cannot. This agreement will allow us to dominate one hundred percent of the cycle production of Jet Fighters, especially in conflicts .(…)

In fact, the entire international community knows that the Brazilian press is playing on the American side. And, for it not become too obvious, that press – Folha, Estadão, Globo and Veja, in particular – say the American Jet is the “best”, even though the Swedish Jet would be a consensus solution, as it offers more independence in the transfer of technology, despite the fact the Gripen is inferior to the American Jet, and superior to the French.

Ag.Brasil/Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Brazil

Jobim has the National Defense on his hands. For the former Ambassador of the USA to Brazil, Clifford Sobel the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil would be ‘anti American’ while Jobim would be an important ally

The position of the Defense Minister Nelson Jobim [pt] and the Brazilian Air Force Commander Juniti Saito before the US government has been disapproved by Brazilians. Both were the targets of the U.S. lobby, and Commander Saito signalled to the Washington officials that he would prefer the American Jet. Backing the voice of the critics, Laerte Braga recalls on blog Jornal do Autodromo [pt] that the decision about from whom will Brazil the buy jet fighter is now with president-elect Dilma Rousseff, due to take office next January:

Dilma Rousseff vive um dilema antes de sua posse. Mantém o ministro da Defesa, Nelson Jobim, notório agente norte-americano e o comandante da Força Aérea Brasileira-FAB (bate continência para Washington) brigadeiro Juniti Saito, ou espanta essas duas figuras que em tempos passados seriam chamados de traidores? (…)

A batata quente está nas mãos da presidente eleita Dilma Rousseff. Lula poderia até facilitar o caminho pedindo a Jobim e Saito que saiam antes do término de seu mandato. (…)

Dilma Rousseff has a dilemma before her inauguration. To keep the Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, a notorious American agent and the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) Commander (who salutes to Washington) Brigadier Juniti Saito, or ward off these two figures, who in the past would be called traitors? (…)

The problem is in the hands of elected president Rousseff. Lula could even ease her way asking Jobim and Saito to leave before the end of his own term.

This post was proofread by Marta Cooper.

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