FARNBOROUGH: Brazilian fighter decision delayed until after October election

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The winner of the Brazilian F-X2 contract will not be announced until after the election in Brazil this October, says the chief of the Brazilian air force.

The prediction by Lt Gen Junito Saito means contract award for at least 36 fighters will be delayed by almost a year compared with the original timeline, which called for contract award last October.

Saito declined an invitation to name the air force's preferred fighter in the competition. Embraer executives also refused to name a favourite.

Brazil downselected to three finalists for F-X2 nearly two years ago - the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale and Saab Gripen NG.

A fairly routine acquistion process was complicated on 7 September last year, when outgoing Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva announced his decision to buy the Rafale during a state visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The announcement prompted former minister of defence Nelson Jobim to submit his resignation letter, which was rejected by da Silva. But it was agreed that the planned evaluation of the competing bids would continue as planned.