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.