Brazil is poised to relaunch its long-running F-XBR fighter competition, which was suspended for 12 months in January under a budget reallocation programme by the country's new government.

Defence minster José Viegas says the programme will regain priority status and the five competitors are due to deliver new bids next month. The programme's funding is believed to have been increased from $760 million to $980 million.

Viegas says the government intends to announce a selection in the first quarter of next year. Contenders are Dassault, teamed with Embraer, offering the Mirage 2000BR; Lockheed Martin and Varig VEM, bidding with the F-16C/DBlock 50/52; RSK, offering its MiG-29SMT; Saab/BAE Systems with the Gripen; and Sukhoi and Avibrás, offering the Su-35.

Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has also intervened to increase the priority of two other dormant programmes. As a result, the air force has completed a technical evaluation - including official flights with Lula on board - of the Airbus A319 Corporate Jet and Boeing Business Jet for a one-aircraft, $50 million deal to replace Brazil's ageing Boeing KC-137long-range presidential transport. Selection is due by year-end.

The second revitalised requirement is to progressively replace the 17 business jets - mainly BAe 125-3A/700s and Learjet 35s - used for government transport.

There are plans to acquire six larger aircraft, with the defence ministry believed to be negotiating with Embraer for the ERJ-135 Legacy, which will be delivered in 2004 if the contract is signed by year-end.

Source: Flight International