Minister Marketing Fighters in Brazil

Swedish Defence Minister Sven Tolgfors has started a four day visit to Brazil, in an effort to sell the controversial Gripen jet fighter.

Brazil is buying at least 36 new fighters and the Gripen is one of 6 competitors.

The Swedish Air Force is flying 142 Gripens, but for the project to break even there have to be exports, which have been slow in coming.

South Africa has bought 28, in a deal where there have been accusations of bribery. Thailand has ordered 6 planes. Hungary and the Czech Republic are leasing 14 each.

Critics have charged that the Gripen is a flawed product, as well as an unnecessary and overly expensive prestige project.

Tolgfors is trying to sell the latest version of the Gripen, the apparently Star Trek inspired “Next Generation” model. Swedish Radio News reported in February that this latest version lacks an encryption system and all radio communications have to be in the clear. A working encryption system won’t be in place until 2015.