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Brazil will decide on jet fighter deal in March

February 11, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Brazil's defense minister, Jose Viegas, said on Tuesday he expected the government to decide next month on whom it will award a $700 million contract for at least 12 new jet fighters.
The bidders for the contract are Lockheed Martin with its F-16 fighter; Sweden's Saab together with BAE Systems Plc, with the Gripen jet; and a joint offering by Brazil's Embraer and France's Dassault Aviation with a special version of the Mirage strike plane.

Russia's Sukhoi is bidding with its Su-35 "Super Flanker" fighter, and the Russian MIG jet maker is also a contender.

The Pentagon has also offered to include AMRAAM missiles in the sale - the first U.S. sale of the weapon in Latin America.

A technical commission headed by the Brazilian Air Force has already completed its study of the bids, but an interministerial group has yet to make its final ruling on the contract.

The government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva relaunched the tender in September of last year after suspending it for nine months to prioritize spending on social programs.

The entire deal would be Latin America's largest military hardware purchase since the end of the Cold War.