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Brazil nears first cut for F-X2 fighter bidders

The Brazilian air force is "very shortly" expected to narrow the competitive field for its F-X2 fighter requirement from six bidders to only two or three, ahead of a scheduled contract award next year.

The current field is understood to cover the Boeing F/A-18E/F Block II Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16BR, Saab Gripen NG and Sukhoi Su-30.

Lockheed confirms that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will not be offered for the Brazilian order, which requires the selected manufacturer to transfer all technology required to maintain the aircraft.

"The F-16BR has been developed to satisfy the originating requirements, inventory and delivery dates, offset and industrial co-operation - all while providing the Brazilian air force with the most advanced and capable F-16 available," Lockheed says. However, the company referred questions about further details of its bid to the US government.

Boeing plans to offer the Super Hornet with Raytheon's APG-79 active electronically scanned array radar "at the heart of the avionics suite", says Bob Gower, the company's vice-president for F/A-18 programmes.

Gower downplays concerns about US government restrictions on technology transfer to a country such as Brazil. "The trend - if you look back over the last 30 years, it's going in the right direction," he says. "This is an opportunity to keep that trend going and accelerate it."

Brazil's requirement is for an initial batch of 32-36 multirole fighters, although its total purchase could eventually reach 120 aircraft.

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