Brazil urgently needs fighter jets- Amorim


Brazil urgently needs to buy new fighter jets and has not ruled out replacing its fleet of Mirage 2000 jet fighters next year, but will monitor the global financial situation before making a decision, Defence Minister Celso Amorim said.

“There is an urgent need (to renew the fleet),” Amorim told reporters after meeting his French counterpart Gerard Longuet.
“The main consideration when it comes to making the decision will be financial and economic,” he said.

France’s Dassault Aviation-built Rafale, U.S.-based Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Swedish Saab (SAABb.ST) Gripen NG have long been vying for the estimated $4-7 billion contract to renew Brazil’s dilapidated fleet of air force jets, Reuters reports.

The French government had come close to sealing a deal with Brazil early this year, with Dassault promising to transfer technology for the new jet in a bid to get an edge over the competition.

But the Brazilian government announced recently it would delay its decision until at least 2012 due to the escalating economic crisis.

Amorim said on Tuesday he did not rule out a final decision in 2012, but stressed that for the time being Brazil needed to be careful and see how the economic environment panned out.
“We don’t know for certain what the consequences of the global financial crisis will be for Brazil so we have to be prudent, without forgetting our defence needs,” he told reporters.

Dassault has still not found a foreign buyer for its multi-role Rafale, billed to be one of the most effective fighter jets in the world, but also one of the most expensive.

The aircraft has received a great deal more interest since it was deployed in the NATO mission in Libya this year, its first ever combat operation.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy discussed the Rafale with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at a United Nations general assembly last month and French officials said Brazil had indicated it favoured the Dassault jet.

Amorim is scheduled to meet Sarkozy on Wednesday, along with Foreign Minister Alain Juppe who has been put in charge of selling the Rafale to the United Arab Emirates.

Defence Minister Longuet said on Monday the estimated $10 billion deal with the UAE for the sale of 60 Rafale jets was in the late stages of discussion and close to being completed.