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Pentagon offers F-16s to Brazil

May 22, 2002 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Pentagon has offered to sell F-16 Fighting Falcons to Brazil that would include advanced air-to-air missiles - the first U.S. sale of the weapon in Latin America.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency made a presentation to the Brazilian government to sell the advanced F-16 Fighting Falcon with associated weapons and equipment, including the advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles known by the acronym AMRAAM, officials said Wednesday.

The system allows a fighter pilot to launch the weapon from beyond visual range of his target. It also provides a greater capability to attack low-altitude targets.

The Defense Department has a policy of not being first to introduce such new technology into a region to avoid upsetting the military balance in an area and starting an arms race.

But officials believe the move is justified because neighboring Peru has bought a Russian version of the AMRAAM, a defense official said on condition of anonymity.

Brazil is talking with a number of countries, including Russia and France, about buying a dozen new generation fighters to replace its old French Mirage jets.

"This U.S. offer marks a new foundation for building an even stronger relationship between our air forces - a relationship built on greater trust and respect for the capabilities of the Brazilian Air Force," the Pentagon said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Chile said it would buy 10 F-16 fighters from Lockheed Martin, marking the first sale of advanced U.S. warplanes to a South American country in two decades, according to Lockheed.

But the deal did not include the missile system.