* Technology transfer key factor in bid choice -minister
* France, U.S., Sweden vie for multibillion-dollar deal
* Lula had supported France, Rousseff leans toward U.S.
AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France, July 9 (Reuters) - The Brazilian government will not review multibillion-dollar bids for a fighter jet deal until the start of 2012, Defence Minister Nelson Jobim told Reuters on Saturday.
“We will go to examine it into the beginning of next year. At the moment, we are only focused on the domestic agenda,” Jobim said on the sidelines of a business forum in southern France.
The Brazilian contract will likely be worth much more than the initial bids, which have been reported by Brazilian media at about $4 billion to $6 billion. Maintenance contracts will be lucrative, and Brazil could eventually buy more than 100 aircraft.
Aside from the price and tactical considerations of Dassault’s Rafale, Boeing’s F-18 and Saab’s Griffon, Brazil needs a technology transfer to help create jobs by manufacturing modern fighters at home and potentially exporting them to neighbours in Latin America.
“The principal necessity is on technology transfer,” said Jobim, who declined to say which of the three offers Brazil was leaning towards.
Dassault’s Rafale had appeared close to clinching its first foreign deal with former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who had said he preferred the French plane over its rivals.
But Lula’s successor, Dilma Rousseff, appears to be leaning towards Boeing’s F-18 after saying she wanted to rethink all the finalists’ bids. Since taking office in January, Rousseff has pursued stronger political ties with the United States. (Reporting by Cyril Altmeyer; Writing by Marie Maitre; Editing by John Irish and Peter Cooney)