October 3, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Brazil announced this week that it plans to replace at least 12 ageing Mirage fighter jets, in what is believed to be Latin America's largest military hardware purchase since the end of the Cold War.
Last Thursday, Brazil's Air Force met with five groups competing to sell Brazil fighter jets worth up to $700 million, restarting a tender which was suspended early this year. The reason for the latter was that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva decided to prioritize spending on social programs. No they seemed to have revered course again.
In a brief statement, the Air Force said all five groups came to the meeting which was intended to provide information on how the process will proceed.
Defense Minister Jose Viegas has said the government will have a decision on which planes to purchase no earlier than January 2004, and that the delay would allow firms to update their offers with new technological advances.
The bidders include U.S. firm Lockheed Martin Corp. with its F-16 fighter, Sweden's Saab and BAE
Systems Plc with the Gripen jet. Russia's Sukhoi is bidding with its Su-35 "Super Flanker" fighter, and the Russian MIG jet maker is also a contender.
Brazil's Embraer and France's Dassault Aviation SA
have jointly presented a special version of the Mirage strike plane.
Last year, Chile
purchased 10 F-16s for $660 million.