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Brazil invests 3,5 billion in upgrading Air Force.

Tuesday, January 6th 2004 - 20:00 UTC
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The Brazilian Air Force announced this week the refurbishing of its 53 AMX fighter bombers with the incorporation of state of the art intelligent bomb technology that will enable it to reach any target in Latinamerica. The operation is estimated will cost 1,5 billion out of a total 3,5 billion US dollars that will be invested in the upgrading of the force.

"Contracts will be formalized very soon" General Luis Carlos Bueno, Commander of the Brazilian Air Force told the Sunday edition of "O Estado de Sao Paulo".

The contract to be signed with Embraer, Empresa Brasileña de Aeronáutica, involves increasing the 53 AMX flight autonomy, improving intelligent bomb technology and modern target guiding radars. The AMX were designed and built in the eighties by Embraer with Italian and French technology and can carry four tons of missiles, rockets and intelligent guided bombs. Refurbishing is scheduled to begin in the second half of this year and should be completed by 2007.

However this is only part of the updating and upgrading process for the Brazilian Air Force. General Bueno confirmed that the force has plans for the purchase of 12 new supersonic fighter-bombers; the refurbishing of 46 aging F-5E/F plus the acquisition of 76 turbo ALX Supertucano light attack bombers and eight electronic surveillance and early warning R-99A/B units, a shopping list that is estimated in 2 billion US dollars.

Last September President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reopened the international bid for the purchase of twelve supersonic fighter bombers he had cancelled on taking office a year ago. The 700 million US dollars of the operation supposedly were to be redirected to the "Zero Hunger" program.

Among the bidders for the contract to replace the aging French built Mirage are the European Consortium SAAB-Bae Systems; the Russian Mapo-Mikoyan; Lockheed-Martin from the US; the French-Brazilian consortium Dassault-Embraer and the Russian-Brazilian group Rosoboroexport-Avibras.

Categories: Mercosur.

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