The Brazilian air force has granted three competitors 10 more days to submit a final round of proposals to sell a minimum of 36 fighters under its FX-2 contract.

The three finalists - the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale F3 and Saab Gripen NG - now have until 2 October to complete their bids for the multi-billion dollar contract, according to an air force statement.

Brazil is extending the tender at the request of the bidding teams. "The three competitors have shown improvements in the offers to the selection process," the statement says.

The extension comes two weeks after the contest appeared to be closed. On 7 September, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the selection of the Rafale. However, Brazilian defence minister Nelson Jobim clarified the following day that the competition remained open.

Air force officials are continuing to research all three proposals before making a recommendation, which will be forwarded to da Silva's office.

Da Silva has already made it clear that he prefers the Rafale, based on its promised price and degree of technology transfer, which have been proposed by Sarkozy. France has also committed to buy between 10 and 15 Embraer KC-390 tanker-transports.

Meanwhile, Boeing and Saab each say they have "sweetened their offer". Boeing is proposing local final assembly, while Saab has said that its Gripen proposal will cost half that of a Rafale purchase.

The US and Swedish bidders must also overcome a wave of new political and industrial collaboration between Brazil and France, which has already led to deals to supply 50 Eurocopter EC725 helicopters and four submarines to the Brazilian military.

Source: Flight International