Insight: How U.S. spying cost Boeing multibillion-dollar jet contract

Fri Dec 20, 2013 11:58am EST
 
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By Brian Winter

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Dilma Rousseff was thoroughly charmed.

Brazil had been struggling for years to decide which company to choose for a $4 billion-plus fighter jet contract, one of the world's most sought-after defense deals and one that would help define the country's strategic alliances for decades to come.

But Rousseff, the leftist president known for being sometimes gruff and even standoffish with foreign leaders, was thrilled after a 90-minute meeting in Brasilia on May 31 with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

After Biden's reassurances that the United States would not block crucial transfers of technological know-how to Brazil if it bought the jets, she was closer than ever to selecting Chicago-based Boeing to supply its fighter, the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

"She's ready to sign on the dotted line," one of her senior aides told Reuters at the time. "This is going to happen soon."

And then along came Edward Snowden.

Documents leaked by the former National Security Agency contractor, released in the weeks after Biden's visit, ended up enraging Rousseff and completely changing her plans, several Brazilian officials told Reuters.

On Wednesday, she surprised the defense and diplomatic worlds by tapping Sweden's Saab to supply the jets, a move aides said was made in part as a deliberate snub to the United States.   Continued...

 
The Boeing logo is seen at their headquarters in Chicago, April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young