Brazil has revived its delayed search for a next-generation multirole combat aircraft, and in early June issued requests for information to five bidders for its new F-X2 contest. Its initial requirement is for a batch of 36 fighters, although the total programme is for 120 aircraft to be delivered from 2014 until post-2020.

Bidders for the new contest have been restricted to the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen NG (Next Generation) and the Sukhoi Su-35. The selected type will replace some of the Brazilian air force's Alenia/Embraer AMX ground-attack aircraft and its upgraded Northrop F-5 fighters, plus a recently acquired batch of ex-French air force Dassault Mirage 2000s.


Industry sources say the RFI requests the delivery of an "established, proven airframe" with supersonic performance, network connectivity and multirole capabilities. The document does not specify whether companies should offer an active electronically scanned array radar with the aircraft, but says both within- and beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles should be supplied.

The F-X2 programme also includes an offset requirement worth 100% of the total acquisition costs, with licensed manufacturing of the selected fighter's airframe, avionics and engines requested during the life of the programme.

Brazil's earlier F-X fighter contest was abandoned in 2005 due to budgetary pressures, and the replacement project had been tipped for launch early this year. However, the defence ministry's new shortlist will come as a disappointment to Lockheed, which was interested in offering its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Speaking earlier this month, Embraer officials said that unlike the previous contest, local industry will not be encouraged to partner directly with the bidding F-X2 companies, and that the Brazilian government and air force will instead head this part of the project.

Source: Flight International