Brazil's defense minister, Celso Amorim, says he hopes a government decision concerning the purchase of 36 new fighter aircraft for the Brazilian air force will be taken before the first term of the year is over.
The FX-2 program was launched by President Dilma Rousseff's predecessor in 2008, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who had opted for the Rafale made by a French consortium led by Dassault Aviation, but he left the final decision up to Rousseff, who decided that in her first year of office there were greater priorities than spending 10 billion reales ($5.7 billion) on combat aircraft.
But in an interview published in Portuguese by Reuters today, Amorim says “the president is aware that this is important and I hope that a decision can be reached quickly ... because there is a lag from the time the decision is taken to the time the first aircraft is delivered.” He says there is urgency because maintenance on the current fleet of Mirage 2000s is going to become “extremely expensive” from 2013.
The three aircraft down-selected are Dassault's Rafale, Boeing's F-18 and Saab's Gripen.
Amorim says the decision will be based in priority on the offer which provides for the greatest amount of technology transfer so that Brazil can build the aircraft itself in the future.