Respectively tendering proposals for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale F3+ and Gripen NG, the companies are contesting a $2.2 billion requirement for an initial batch of 36 aircraft. However, the F-X2 programme is expected to run well into the 2020s, with subsequent orders expected for a further 64-84 fighters.
To comply with a technology transfer requirement set by the Brazilian defence ministry, the competing manufacturers have already signed memoranda of understanding with Brazilian aerospace companies Aeroeletrônica, Atech, Embraer and Mectron.
Brazilian air force chief Lt Brig Juniti Saito says the winning contender should be announced no later than July, with an eye on a contract signature in October. To replace the service's modernised Northrop F-5 fighters, Alenia/Embraer AMX strike aircraft and an interim batch of Dassault Mirage 2000Cs, the new fighters are expected to enter service from late 2014.
Current expectations are that the initial purchase will comprise 28 single-seat fighters and eight two-seat trainers, but air force sources indicate that this mix could change.
But while Brazil has yet to feel the economic pinch that many other countries are experiencing, its government is already considering cutting $15.9 billion from its 2009 budget, leading Saito to express concern regarding possible delays to the F-X2 programme's schedule.