Sao Paulo: US aerospace giant Boeing is proposing to transfer 1.5 billion dollars in fighter jet technology to Brazil in a bid to score a contract for 36 combat aircraft, a top company executive said Monday.
The offer appear to be an attempt to blunt competing bids from France`s Dassault, which is putting forward its advanced Rafale fighter, and Sweden`s Saab, which is proposing its yet-to-be-built Gripen NG, to replace Brazil`s aging fleet of 12 French-made Mirage-2000 jets and 50 US-made F-5 aircraft.
The deal is estimated to be worth between "two and three billion dollars," Boeing said, and would involve delivering F/A-18 Super Hornets from 2014.
Brazil, which is set to announce the winning bid by the end of the month, could increase the order to a total of 120 aircraft by 2040.
"We believe that the 1.5 billion dollars of technology we are gonna give to our partnership here will make them a better industry for years to come," Boeing executive vice president James Albaugh told reporters in Sao Paulo.
The deal would be associated with materials and other support, he said, noting Brazil is seeking "a path to independence, to take care of the airplanes on their own."
The technology transfer is a "clear signal" to Brazil that the United States is backing the deal, said Albaugh.
US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher and Pentagon acquisition and technology chief Ashton Carter said last week they had outlined the proposal to Brazilian officials.
Accompanied in Brasilia by President Barack Obama`s national security advisor, Jim Jones, they said the technology transfer was part of a final gambit to try to persuade Brazil`s air force to buy the new combat aircraft.
"We want to have a technology relationship with Brazil that gets deeper and deeper with the time," Carter said. "This is just the first step."
One consideration, both for Brazil and for the United States, was likely to be how the F/A-18 might stack up against Venezuela`s air force should any future confrontation take place.
Venezuela recently purchased 24 Russian and Chinese-developed Su-30MK2s, a modern fighter considered to have superior performance over the US plane.