Brazil to seal Mirage 2000 deal

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Brazil will conclude the interim purchase of 10 Dassault Mirage 2000C fighters and two Mirage 2000B trainers during president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s visit to France in mid-July, according to Brazilian air force sources. The Brazilian and French governments are finalising the deal, which will involve the delivery of surplus French air force aircraft to replace Brazil’s Mirage IIIEBR fighters. The interim purchase is required following Brazil’s cancellation earlier this year of the air force’s next generation F-X BR fighter programme.

The secondhand aircraft are expected to receive Thales-supplied RDI radars under a $72 million modernisation package that also includes airframe overhaul and standardisation work, minor mission system upgrades and spare parts. France will also supply flight and ground crew training under the programme, which sources indicate is already under way at Chateaudun airbase.

The sale will include the provision of MBDA Super 530 and R550 Magic 2 air-to-air missiles, although the aircraft are also expected to be modified to enable them to deploy a new beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile. The yet-to-be-disclosed weapon is also set for integration on air force Northrop F-5 fighters being upgraded to BR standard by Embraer.

Deliveries of Brazil’s initial batch of 12 Mirage 2000C/Bs are due to begin late this year. Brazilian sources indicate that there is a standing French offer of additional airframes to equip a second air-defence squadron. This option is being examined by the Brazilian air force.