Brazil has shortlisted the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale and Saab Gripen NG for its F-X2 fighter competition, with a decision expected next year on its initial requirement for 36 aircraft to be delivered beginning in 2014. Not making the list are the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin Advanced F-16 and Sukhoi Su-35.
Any surprises there? The formidable Sukhoi has long been rumoured to be the Brazilian Air Force's favourite, but the plucky little Gripen has always been a contender. The F-18 is enjoying an export resurgence in its latest Block 2 Super Hornet form. The Rafale is still exportless, and probably expensive, but Brazil does operate a bunch of Mirage 2000s leased from France after its last fighter contest, F-XBR, was cancelled.
Brazil requested information on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but the US responded with an offer of the Advanced F-16. That Brazil said no thanks is probably a sign that a change of guard is indeed under way in the export fighter market. With the F-35 up against the Gripen NG in Denmark - where the F/A-18E/F is also a contender - as well as in Norway and the Netherlands, the next few months promise to be interesting.