Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/26/2012 -- While defence spending in much of the western world may be in the doldrums, Brazil continues to pour investment into its armed forces, albeit at a slower pace than perhaps previously forecast to take account of current economic circumstances.
By far the biggest defence acquisition programme in Brazil is the air force's plans to initially purchase 36 airframes to fulfil the country's F-X Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) requirement. However, it is important to note that the size of this acquisition could significantly increase in the future.
With India having selected the Dassault Rafale as the preferred bidder for its own MRCA competition earlier this year, the F-X initiative is significant for one overriding reason: Brazil's purchase will probably represent the last major MRCA acquisition until the fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightening- II Joint Strike Fighter combat aircraft family becomes available towards the end of this decade. All of the aircraft participating in Brazil's F-X competition are so-called '4.5 generation' aircraft, including designs from the United States, Sweden, France and collaborative efforts encompassing a number of European countries. The favourite aircraft to fulfil the requirement is still considered to be the French Dassault Rafale, although while this aircraft is thought to be favoured by the Brazilian government, the Brazilian air force is thought to favour Sweden's Saab JAS-39 Gripen. A decision on which aircraft will be selected to fulfil the F-X requirement is expected by the middle of this year.
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While the country is purchasing new combat aircraft its main aircraft supplier, Embraer, is keen to enhance its own standing as an exporter of military airframes. Its ambitions in this regard were dealt a blow in February when the firm lost out on a bid to supply light attack single-turboprop aircraft to the United States Air Force, which the service was procuring on behalf of the Afghan air force. The acquisition was cancelled after complaints about the selection process. A new competition is expected soon in which Embraer is expected to participate once again.
Closer to home, the company continues to be an active participant not only in the purchase of new combat aircraft, but also in a number of defence and security programmes around the country. To this end, it is involved in several border surveillance initiatives, and is offering a solution in conjunction with a Brazilian telecommunications company regarding the Brazilian government's plans to acquire a new constellation of military satellites.
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