Brazil to decide fighter jet buy after election: minister
Brazil is going to wait until after presidential elections conclude at the end of this month to decide a long-delayed multi-billion-dollar purchase of new fighter jets, Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said Wednesday.
Outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva needs to discuss the matter with whoever is elected to succeed him in an October 31 runoff, Jobim told a seminar of senior military officers and private sector defense contractors in Sao Paulo.
"When the second round is over we are going to examine the issue of the F-X," he said, referring to the code of the tender to supply Brazil's air force with 36 modern fighters.
"The execution of the FX will be in under the new government, and so the president needs to speak with the new president-elect about the FX," he said.
Three finalists are battling it out for the Brazilian contract, which is worth an estimated four billion to seven billion dollars.
France's Rafale made by Dassault was seen leading the race against Sweden's Gripen NG by Saab and the F/A-18 Super Hornet manufactured by US giant Boeing ever since Lula last year said it was his preferred choice.
But the French bid's prospects have faded as Brazil's electoral calendar has taken over, and after the air force made clear through leaks to the media that it preferred the cheaper Swedish jet.
Brazil, which has an option to increase the purchase by up to another 100 aircraft, is insisting that the deal involve a transfer of technology so it can build up its own aviation sector.
Lula's chosen candidate, Dilma Rousseff, his former cabinet chief, currently leads the race for the presidency, with a solid lead over challenger Jose Serra, the former governor of Sao Paulo state.
© 2010 AFP