February 26, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Brazil canceled its plans to spend $700 million on at least 12 new fighter jets to upgrade its air force. This is a blow for Lockheed who offered 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons.
In October 2003 Brazil announced its plans
to replace 12 ageing Mirage fighter jets. The bidding process is now canceled because technological advancements would have rendered the aircraft being considered obsolete, the air force said in a statement.
The bidders included Lockheed Martin with its F-16 fighter, Sweden's Saab and BAE
Systems with the Gripen jet, Russia's Sukhoi with its Su-35 "Super Flanker" fighter, and Mikoyan Gurevich. Brazil's Embraer and France's Dassault Aviation SA
jointly presented a special version of the Mirage strike plane.
Lockheed spokesman Joe Stout noted that there are a lot of uncertainties involving foreign military sales. He said Lockheed would be ready if Brazil were to decide to go ahead with a new competition.
The Fort Worth plant has a dwindling backlog of F-16 orders, with production now slated to end in 2008. In the last year, Lockheed has cut hundreds of jobs from the program and said it may cut 1,000 more this year, reducing F-16 employment to about 4,000.
"The F-16 is still a very important part of our business here," Stout said, adding that the company believes it is likely to obtain orders for 100 or more planes that would extend production through 2010.
The Pentagon had also offered to include AMRAAM
missiles in the sale, which would have been Latin America's largest military hardware purchase since the end of the Cold War.
On December 27th 2000, Chile
bought 10 F-16 fighters from Lockheed Martin, marking the first sale of advanced U.S. warplanes to a South American country in two decades. The LoA
was signed on February 2nd, 2002.