Paris today played down its failure to convince Brazil to buy French Rafale fighter jets, saying it still had hope for contracts with India and Gulf nations.
Brazil announced yesterday it had chosen Saab of Sweden's Gripen NG to meet a multi-billion-dollar contract for 36 new fighter jets, over Dassault's Rafale and US aviation giant Boeing's F/A-18.
The move was another blow to the Rafale programme, which has failed to win a single foreign sale after nearly three decades of development that has cost tens of billions of euros.
Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Europe 1 radio that Brazil had not been "a priority target" for Rafale sales, despite President Francois Hollande personally lobbying for the deal during a state visit to Brazil last week.
"We have other bigger prospects," Le Drian said. "We have good reason to believe that for India and the Gulf, there will soon be results."
Dassault is in talks to finalise the sale of 126 Rafale fighters to India and has opened negotiations with the United Arab Emirates over the potential sale of 60 planes. Qatar and Kuwait have also indicated they are interested.
So far only the French air force is equipped with Rafales, which have been used in fighting in Libya and Mali.