Mario Fonseca/RIO DE JANEIRO

A $3 billion acquisition programme for the Brazilian air force has been outlined by the defence ministry in an effort to redress financial constraints which have reduced aircraft availability and slashed flying hours.

Aircraft availability has been reduced by 58% because of shortages resulting from cuts to the spares acquisition funds, from $433 million in 1995 to $69 million. By mid-June, 449 aircraft from a fleet of 775 were grounded, with older aircraft most affected.

Flying hours have also been hit, with the air force allocated 41% fewer hours than the 120,000h logged last year.

In a bid to solve the crisis, defence minister Geraldo Quintïo has held discussions with Brazil's President Fernando Henrique Cardoso to outline a 12-year,$3 billion acquisition plan. Pending Congressional approval, a $380 million emergency fund is being prepared to solve the air force's difficulties. This includes the $280 million set aside for Northrop F-5E modernisation.

To purchase new aircraft, $240 million has been allocated for the C-X tactical transport replacement and $240 million for the acquisition of eight refurbished Lockheed Martin P-3Bs. The long-running F-X fighter replacement will receive $600 million for an initial 20 aircraft, while a similar amount has been reserved for VIP transports and tanker-transports.

Source: Flight International