Marconi Electronic Systems and partner Lockheed Martin are seeking to take advantage of Elbit's troubled Northrop F-5E/F upgrade negotiations by offering Brazil a revived proposal that includes the option for a future beyond visual range (BVR) missile capability.

Negotiations between Brazil, local F-5 upgrade prime contractor Embraer and Elbit have dragged on since September. Brazil is seeking to renegotiate contract pricing to offset the recent massive revaluation of the real against the dollar, which Elbit and partner Singapore Technologies Aerospace (STAe) are finding hard to accommodate.

While acknowledging that it still does not have a contract with Brazil, Elbit claims negotiations are on schedule and within the original framework. Privately Elbit and STAe sources have expressed concern over the pace and direction of discussions (Flight International, 21-27 April).

Sources close to the rival Marconi/Lockheed Martin team claim that pricing supplied to Brazil last year remains valid despite the currency crisis. The proposal is based around the Lockheed Martin APG-67 radar, while Elbit is basing its upgrade around either the Elta EL/M-2032 or Fiar Grifo F from which Brazil has yet to choose.

Although not part of the upgrade, the original request for proposals also asked for provision for a BVR missile capability to be added in the future. The APG-67 includes the option of a larger antenna, which is claimed would effectively double the radar's range. The radar would have to be mounted further back in the F-5's nose to accommodate the larger array.

The system is similar to Taiwan's license-built GD-53 radar installed on the AIDC Indigenous Defence Fighter and which is integrated with the locally produced active-radar-guided Sky Sword 2 BVR missile. While the APG-67 is cleared for sale to Brazil, the Raytheon AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missile is not yet released.

Brazil is planning initially to upgrade 48 F-5s with a new multi-mode radar, radar warning receiver, head-up display and avionics suite. The programme includes the follow-on acquisition and upgrade of another 13 F-5s, one more than originally planned due to the loss of an aircraft.

Source: Flight International