BRASILIA: Three competing firms have submitted their final bids for a coverted multi-billion-dollar contract to sell Brazil 36 high performance fighter aircraft, the Brazilian Air Force said.

The Rafale fighter, made by France's Dassault Systemes, was favored to win the competition with the Swedish-made Gripen and Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet to replace Brazil's aging fleet of 12 French-made Mirage jets,

The Brasilian government has openly said it is leaning toward the Rafale because France has offered to share technology with Brazil.

The technology transfer offer was repeated and confirmed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in meetings with his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, but the other two manufacturers were given an opportunity to improve their bids.

A group of Brazilian Air Force experts will finalize a technical report on the three types of aircraft.

The winner will be formally announced "at a date that has not yet been set," the air force said.

In a potential setback to the French company, the head of the Brazilian Air Force has sought information on a mid-air collision over the Mediterranean Sea last month involving two Rafale fighter jets similar to those it may purchase.

The two supersonic jets were flying back to the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle off the coast of Perpignan after completing a test flight when they went down on September 24.

French divers found the body of a pilot, the French Navy said Thursday. A second pilot ejected and was rescued.