BRAZIL IS STUDYING concepts for a new fighter, dubbed the FX, initially to replace Dassault Mirages now operated by its air force. Procurement is planned to begin around the year 2000, with deliveries beginning around 2005, and Brazil wants an off-the-shelf aircraft, which it can adapt to meet its requirements.

US manufacturers are at present banned from selling combat aircraft in Latin America, but that is expected to change by the time FX procurement begins. Technology releasability will still remain an issue with US aircraft, argues Brazilian manufacturer Embraer, which hopes to be given the role of "missionising" the chosen aircraft.

The FX is one of several military-aircraft programmes, which have emerged as a result of Brazil's improving economy. These include the ALX turboprop light-attack/advanced-trainer aircraft, a Northrop F-5 upgrade, an Alenia/Aermacchi/Embraer AMX upgrade, a new land-based anti-submarine-warfare aircraft and a new light transport. Candidate aircraft for the latter two roles include the Alenia G.222, ATR 42 and Casa CN.235.

Embraer is already under contract to develop the ALX, which is based on its EMB-312H Super Tucano turboprop trainer. Requests for proposals for the avionics have been issued, with responses due in April and selection scheduled for June.

The Brazilian manufacturer is conducting the avionics competition on behalf of the air force and says that technology releasability will be a key factor in the assessment of bids.

Embraer says that the decision has been taken to proceed with the long-awaited F-5 standardisation and upgrade. The company is expecting to be established as prime contractor and to conduct the competition to select the avionics in a similar manner to the ALX programme. The air force is looking for commonality between the ALX and the up-graded F-5 and AMX, and technology releasibility will again be a major issue, the company says.

Embraer displayed one of two Super Tucano prototypes at FIDAE '96 after completing a Latin American demonstration tour covering Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Chile. Only Chile does not already operate the basic Tucano. The aircraft was equipped with a FLIR Systems forward-looking infra-red sensor to demonstrate its use in anti-drug operations.

Source: Flight International