Brazilian Defence Minister Nelson Jobim said he favoured the French Rafale fighter jet over aircraft from Sweden and the US for the country’s multibillion-dollar fighter competition.

The Dassault-made Rafale jet is competing against Saab’s Gripen NG from Sweden and Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet from the US for the estimated $4.4bn order.

Jobim told a congressional commission that the air force commander preferred the Rafale on defence policy grounds, according to the Associated Press.

Dassault’s bid, although the most expensive of the three, meets Brazil’s national defence strategy, which requires a complete transfer of technology in the purchase of military equipment.

Jobim said that the French Government had agreed to make the transfer and accepted Brazil’s request to sell the planes to other Latin American countries.

The US Government will only authorise the full transfer of technology in some cases, and the Swedish plane will be constructed of parts made in other countries.

36 jets will be selected to modernise the air force and replace the current Mirage 2000, F-5M and A-1M fleet.