PARIS (AP) -- Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said Thursday that the government -- not the air force -- will determine which contractor to pick for a $4.4 billion fighter jet order, and that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has not yet made his decision.
His comments come after a report in Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo said that Brazil's air force favors a Swedish competitor to French defense contractor Dassault's Rafale fighter jet because the French option is too expensive.
The Rafale is estimated at double the cost of a Gripen fighter, Tuesday's report in Folha de S. Paulo said. Brazil's air force would not confirm the report.
Sweden's Gripen NG, made by Saab AB, and U.S.-based Boeing Co.'s F-18 Super Hornet are also in the running for the contract.
"Sometimes the engineers have one opinion but many times cheap things end up being expensive, so one has to think about this too," he told journalists in Paris before a lunch with French President Nicolas Sarkozy's diplomatic adviser, Jean-David Levitte.
"The process is not finished and will only finish once the president makes his decision," Amorim said.
A final decision on the order for 36 fighters had been expected last year, with the first deliveries set for 2014. It was not clear when the announcement might be forthcoming.
France has struggled to find a foreign buyer for the Rafale. Paris has been trying for years to market the planes -- from Saudi Arabia to India and elsewhere -- but has not yet clinched an export deal.