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Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
U.S. Offers Fighters, Advanced Missiles to Brazil

The Pentagon informed Congress April 18 that the United States would try to sell 12 F-16C/D fighter jets and 48 advanced air-to-air missiles to Brazil in a deal that could be worth $909 million. U.S. inclusion of the AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) would be the first sale of a U.S. beyond-visual-range missile to a Latin American country.

U.S. policy bars introducing AMRAAMs into regions where comparable missiles do not already exist. Until last year, it was not certain whether such a missile existed in Latin America, but Peru has publicly confirmed it owns the Russian-made AA-12 Adder missile, which is similar to the AMRAAM.

If Brazil opts for the F-16, it would be the second sale of U.S. fighter jets to a Latin American country since President Bill Clinton’s August 1997 reversal of a 20-year-old U.S. policy effectively banning advanced weapon sales to the region. Chile signed a deal for 10 F-16C/D aircraft February 1. (See ACT, March 2002.)

The U.S. F-16 offer is one of five proposals Brazil is weighing. Other offers include two Russian-made fighters, one Swedish-British combat aircraft, and a joint proposal, considered by many to be the front runner, from a French and Brazilian team to build the Mirage 2000-5 fighter. Brazil is expected to make a decision in June.