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Wed, Mar 03, 2010

U.S. Hopes Brazil Will Buy F/A-18 Fighter Jets

Facing Competition From Dassault Rafale And Saab Gripen NG

The U.S. Government hopes Brazil will enter into a multi-billion dollar contract to purchase F/A-18 Hornets when it buys 36 new fighter jets, and some see the arrival of the U.S.S Carl Vinson (file photo, right) in Rio de Janeiro as a tactic to convince the Brazilian government that the Hornet is the best plane for them to buy.

The aircraft carrier is officially in Brazil to improve ties with the Brazilian Navy, according to U.S. Rear Admiral Ted Branch. The carrier has been deployed in relief efforts for Haiti following January's devastating earthquake.

But the fact that the carrier arrived with Boeing representatives on board have some saying the visit is a sign of a U.S. push to convince Brazil to buy its airplanes.

The international news service AFP reports that the Hornet is considered a long shot for the Brazilian Air Force, because the U.S. has in the past refused to allow that country to export airplanes employing U.S. technology.

Brazil is also considering the French Dassault Rafale and the Swedish Saab Gripen NG. Brazilian Air Force General Juniti Saito said last week that Brazil is expected to name the winner by the end of March, but would not give a date certain.

F/A 18 Super Hornet

The choice, Saito said would be a "political and strategic decision" made by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.  The Brazilian Air Force in the process of conducting a technical evaluation of the three bids.

Sources say President Lula is leaning towards the Rafale, because France has said it will give Brazil access to all the technology that goes into the airplane. Brazil reportedly would like to be able to manufacture its own fighter jets. But another source says the Air Force has indicated it actually prefers the less-expensive Gripen NG jet.

FMI: www.brasil.gov.br/ingles

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