Brazil will postpone until next year a decision on a multi-billion-dollar contract to buy 36 next-generation fighter and there is currently no favorite, a government source said Friday.
“The government budget does not include an outlay for the purchase of the jets, the decision is for 2013”, the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
The official added that there was no favorite in the contest pitting the US F/A-18 Super Hornet against the Rafale fighter, made by French firm Dassault Aviation, and Swedish manufacturer Saab’s Gripen, for a contract valued at more than $5 billion.
The source said Brasilia was awaiting the outcome of the US presidential election in November before making a decision.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is also considering a possible trip to France in December, the source added.
When she came to power in January 2011, Rousseff put off the purchase decision, which was expected to be made this year.
The early favorite was the Rafale, but Brasilia finds it too expensive and has been pressing for a better price. Paris has offered full technology transfers in its bid to win the contract.
Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet is cheaper, but Brazilian officials are wary of Washington’s possible use of technology restrictions.
In 2006, the United States blocked the sale of 24 Super Tucano light attack aircraft made by Brazil’s top aeronautics firm Embraer to Venezuela as they contained US-built components.
Brazil, Latin America’s dominant power and the world’s sixth biggest economy, is now insisting on technology transfer in all its defense agreements.
The country is keen to develop its own defense industry and wants to assemble aircraft with foreign technology for export.