The winner of Brazil’s multibillion-dollar jet fighter contract is expected to be announced at the end of March 2010.

Brazilian Air Force commander Gen. Juniti Saito said it would be a political and strategic decision made by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, following the air force’s technical evaluation of the three bids, according to defensenews.

France’s Rafale is leading the fighter competition, since it has accepted the key condition of sharing all the technology involved in the Rafale’s construction with Brazil.

The other two contenders for the fighter competition are Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and Saab’s Gripen NG.

According to defensenews, France has also agreed to sell its Rafales, reducing its price from $8.2bn to $6.2bn, with an additional $4bn in maintenance over the next three decades.

The Gripen, however, was priced at $4.5bn plus $1.5bn in maintenance, while the F/A-18s were valued at $5.7bn plus $1.9bn in maintenance.

Brazil will acquire 36 fighter aircraft at an estimated cost of $4bn, to strengthen the combat capability of its air force.