Brazil’s defence ministry is re-examining a decision to scrap the air force’s F-X BR fighter procurement almost a year ago amid political wrangling and funding difficulties, and is now attempting to organise a new procurement budgeted at $2.2 billion.

However, unlike the previous programme, the defence ministry does not intend to open a bidding process for the new requirement, but will simply select a fighter and negotiate a contract understood to be for between 36 and 42 aircraft. Although a programme go-ahead is not expected before year-end, local sources indicate that Dassault’s Rafale is considered to be a prime contender.

Brazil late last year concluded a deal to acquire 12 ex-French air force Dassault Mirage 2000B/Cs to replace its Mirage IIIEBR/DBRs, the last of which were retired from service last December. The country has now also negotiated a $24 million deal to acquire six Northrop F-5Es and three F-5F trainers from the Royal Saudi Air Force to cover an expected shortfall in air defence cover.

Northrop Grumman is expected to perform inspection and maintenance services and to return the aircraft to flight status.

The Brazilian air force intends to ferry all nine aircraft to Brazil by July and subsequently hand them over to Embraer to pass through its F-5BR modernisation programme. The service has a requirement for at least two more F-5Es.

Source: Flight International