All three fighter jets vying to be picked for a multi-billion-dollar contract to supply the Brazilian air force have passed a technical evaluation, news reports said Thursday. Skip related content

The foreign companies competing to supply Brazil’s air force with 36 new fighter jets are France’s Dassault with its Rafale fighter; Sweden’s Saab with the Gripen NG aircraft; and US-based Boeing with the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

The O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported that the air force said in a report delivered to the defense ministry that all of the contenders met its specifications.

It added that the decision on who would win the lucrative bid to replace Brazil’s fleet of aging fighter jets would be made by the country’s political leaders, not the military.

Air force and defense ministry officials contacted by AFP declined to comment on the news report.

Brazilian Air Force General Juniti Saito said last month that Brazil likely would make its pick known in late March, but did not set a date.

Saito stressed it would be a “political and strategic decision” made by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Analysts believe France’s Rafale is the leading contender after Lula and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said last September that negotiations were underway for Brazil to buy 36 of them.