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  • U.S. and Russia Compete for Brazil’s Future Air Force

    As a rising international power, Brazil under President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva outlined a comprehensive national defense plan aimed at controlling and defending national territory, extending its maritime reach, and developing cutting-edge defense technology. The plan calls for reorganization of the army, air and space capabilities to cover Brazil’s extensive territory (including the Amazon), and augmented maritime defense capabilities reportedly designed to project Brazil’s offshore oil deposits.

    Brazil’s original shopping list included a nuclear-powered submarine and as many as 36 advanced fighter aircraft. Proposals to update the Brazilian air force have been on the drawing boards for over a decade as the Brazilians seek to modernize their aging air fleet. Since 2008, it appeared that France held the inside position to win the multi-billion-dollar contest by providing Brazil with their Rafale F-X2 fighter, built by Dassault Aviation.

    Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff, who assumed the presidency on January 1, is Lula’s former chief of staff and handpicked successor. She has, nonetheless, called for a review of the acquisition process on the grounds of costs, budgetary concerns, and evolving defense and security needs. In recent conversations with Senator John McCain, Rouseff hinted at fresh readiness to reconsider purchasing Boeing’s F/A 18E/F Super Hornet, especially if the U.S. can demonstrate flexibility on technology transfers needed to support the sales. Brazil wants to do as much of the construction as possible.

    Russia also hopes to capitalize on renewed competition for the fighter contract, advancing proposals to sell Russia’s latest generation of fighters, the SU-35BM, and capitalize on recent developments in Russian military aircraft development.

    In the case of the Russian aircraft, it should be a case of caveat emptor. First, Russia has a track record of selling sub-standard military aircraft to foreign customers. Its MiG-29 fighters (designed as a counterpart to the U.S.’s F-16 Fighting Falcon) were returned to the manufacturer by Algeria, while Lebanon refused to purchase them. This is because of design flaws, inadequate maintenance (which causes a great number of Russian fighter jets to be grounded after inspection), and poor reliability in comparison with the F-16.

    Secondly, the SU-35BM is essentially the upgraded version of SU-27 design from the 1970s. BM stands for “Big Modernization”—of a much earlier plane. The aircraft was designed as the Russian response to F-15 Eagle, but the Soviet/Russian quality, avionics, electronics, and customer service are of a considerably lower standard than its famed U.S. counterpart. No wonder the plane crashed during tests.

    Thirdly, Russia already sold advanced Sukhoi fighters to Brazil’s neighbor Venezuela, which is also considering purchases of SU-35. In order to gain air superiority, Brazil may need to look to more advanced and more reliable fighters elsewhere, including the U.S.

    Finally, Russian arms export companies are plagued with corruption and, at times, murder. Transparency International consistently ranks Russia among the worst transgressors. Two arms export senior executives were killed, others were accused of corruption and fired, and even a retired colonel who wrote about arms sales as a journalist was murdered.

    Co-authored by Ariel Cohen.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to U.S. and Russia Compete for Brazil’s Future Air Force

    1. Pingback: Tweets that mention U.S. and Russia Compete for Brazil’s Future Air Force | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    2. Eric says:

      This article clearly has bias. It should be noted that the F-18 is also a 1970's aircraft, much like the Su-27 only not as cool looking.

    3. Matt, Colo Springs, says:

      Thank you Heritage for your service to our country!

      Lets not be giving out anymore technology to foreign nations, heh? It may mean jobs if we were to share/sell them, but look to the Founding Fathers for what they said about how we need to focus on supporting ourselves and protecting our assets.

      They are definitely on high-speed spin in their graves over how we've sold/given military equipment to Egypt on that basis alone…let alone that 1 of the plausible outcomes of the unrest over there may be that the Muslim Brotherhood will gain control of that equipment as time marches on. A number of the Founding Fathers emphasized the avoidance of alliances in order to avoid sticky situation between nations, which inevitably always happen. Be friends with all, partners with none. If you MUST have partnerships, they have to be temporary.

    4. Rob, Texas says:

      Brazil is the largest military and political power in South America. It is in our country's best interest to strengthen military, political and economic ties with Brazil for no better reason than to than to counter Venezuela’s souring effect in the region. American jobs are important but they are not the only important issue facing our country. The growing anti-U.S. sentiment in some South American countries like Bolivia and Venezuela along with strengthening ties to our enemies, (Iran), pose a valid threat to our future security and prosperity.

    5. Phil says:

      This article is not bias, you just need to check your facts.

      The F/A-18 C/D Hornet is a 1970's aircraft, but this article specifies the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, which began production in 1997 and is a 4.5 generation multirole aircraft. The Super Hornet is based off of the original F/A-18 Hornet design, but from there it is a different aircraft. Its structure is improved, it is 20% larger, has improved performance, reduced radar signature, and the list goes on.

      Performance and quality is more important than how "cool looking" it is.

    6. Pat says:

      All politics and anti-American or Russian sentiment aside, the French Rafale would be the best deal for Brazil. It is the best plane available in this competition and is guaranteed a technology transfer. I don't know what Dilma is waiting for. Brazil should also rejoin the PAK-FA T-50 program in order to have a stealth fighter to take it up to par in today's world of increasingly stealthy fighters.

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