Brazil's F-X next-generation fighter programme has again been resurrected, following repeated delays and postponements that have thwarted air force modernisation efforts over the past 10 years.

The Brazilian government has given the service the green light to initiate an evaluation and selection process next January, and provided a $2.2 billion budget for the procurement.

Unofficially dubbed FX-2, the new project calls for the purchase of 36 aircraft in a single batch, in contrast to the stepped procurement originally envisaged for Brazil's previous F-X programme, which was formally abandoned late last year.

Main contenders are expected to include the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen and Sukhoi Su-35, although air force sources say Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could also be included when a request for proposals is issued in the third quarter of next year.

© Eurofighter
The Typhoon will be one rival for the 36-aircraft F-X2 project

The decision to revive the fighter procurement has been spurred by two factors. Firstly, a continuous run of defence budget cuts this decade has severely compromised aircraft availability, with sources revealing that only 267 of the air force's 719 aircraft are airworthy. The remainder are grounded for maintenance, although funding issues are preventing the purchase of spare parts for some 232 aircraft.

But Brazil is far more concerned about neighbouring Venezuela's rapid purchase of large amounts of defence equipment, including fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. The country is now negotiating the purchase of 10 medium transport helicopters for its army, with the Eurocopter AS532 Cougar and Mil Mi-171V on its shortlist.

Source: Flight International