Brazil delays F-X2 fighter decision until end of 2012

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The Brazilian government has deferred selecting the winner of its F-X2 fighter competition until 31 December 2012, despite repeated assurances a decision would be announced by mid-year.

Disclosing that it has requested bidding companies Boeing, Dassault and Saab to maintain their offers until the year-end date, the government attributed its latest postponement to unfavourable global economic conditions and low economic growth in Brazil.

Local reports suggest Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff held talks with French counterpart François Hollande at the UN's recent Rio +20 conference over a new proposal on the Dassault Rafale.

High acquisition and operating costs remain major stumbling blocks to any possible deal for the type, sources say, and the new proposal is expected to be a talking point again when Rousseff and defence minister Celso Amorim visit France later this month.

Brazilian air force leaders have expressed concern over yet another delay in a programme that should originally have seen the selection of a new fighter in 2000. Nominally, next year should see the retirement of 12 ex-French air force Dassault Mirage 2000C/Bs, acquired by Brazil in 2005 as a stopgap measure after delays affected its original F-X contest.

In addition to the Rafale, the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Saab Gripen remain in contention for the F-X2 award.