, RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 26 – Brazil’s long-delayed decision on a multi-billion-dollar contract to buy 36 next-generation fighter jets may be put off until next year, government officials said Tuesday.
“The decision may be announced in 2013,” the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
The US F/A-18 Super Hornet is competing against the Rafale fighter, made by French firm Dassault Aviation and Swedish manufacturer Saab’s Gripen for the contract valued at more than $5 billion.
In August, Defense Minister Celso Amorim said the country’s economic slowdown meant a delay in the purchase decision scheduled before the end of the year.
“The program is not abandoned. There will be a decision in due course. But I would prefer not to give any date,” he then said.
Brazilian press reports said Brasilia was awaiting the outcome of the US presidential election in November before making a decision.
They noted that President Dilma Rousseff was currently attending the UN General Assembly in New York and could discuss the issue during an informal bilateral session with her US counterpart Barack Obama.
Nelson During, chief editor of the respected defense website Defesanet told AFP on Tuesday that the fighter jets were very expensive and that the government “is concerned about the final cost of the contract.
“The government is conducting a new economic review of defense contracts and is delaying them. This also applies to Navy contacts,” he added.
Brazil, Latin America’s dominant power and the world’s sixth-largest economy, is insisting on technology transfer in all its defense agreements.
In April, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited Brazil and pledged US advanced technology transfers if Brasilia chooses the Boeing’s F/A-18.
France has offered full technology transfers in its bid to win the contract.