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Brazil leases 12 Kfirs until F-X BR decision is made

The Brazilian air force is to lease 12 Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI)Kfir C-10 fighters as an interim air defence capability ahead of the delivery of new fighters to be selected in its F-XBR competition.

Valued at $91.6 million, the five-year lease covers 12 Kfirs and spares. A group from the Brazilian air force has travelled to Israel to examine and select 12 Kfirs from the Israeli air force's stored fleet, to be delivered next year.

Head of the Brazilian air force,Lt Brig Carlos de Almeida Baptista, says the proposed lease is a temporary solution and does not mean the end of the F-X competition.

Delays in an F-X decision and an impending election have spurred the defence ministry to consider a lease to replace the air force's Mirage IIIEBR/DBR fleet. Even if an F-X is selected in the next few weeks, the air force does not expect to receive its new fighters before 2007, three years after the Mirage IIIs are due to retire.

Other options included 12 ex-Royal Netherlands Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16As and 12 Swedish air force Saab/BAE Systems Gripens. The F-16 and Gripen are also in the F-X competition, although the air force favours the Sukhoi Su-35 and local manufacturer Embraer is pushing the Mirage 2000BR.

TheKfir was developed from the Mirage III, and it seems the air force sees the Israeli fighter as offering the least operational problems, while Israel offered the most favourable price and shortestdelivery schedules.