Sao Paulo Gazeta Mercantil - January 24, 2002
Brazil To Purchase F-5E Fighter Jets From Switzerland
In November 1952, Brazil traded cotton for combat aircraft: Brazil handed over 15 thousand tons of cotton and received 60 Gloster Meteor F-8 and T-7 planes from England in return, in a transaction that was worth four million pounds sterling at the time.
Fifty years later, Brazil is going to buy from Switzerland 15 F-5E fighter planes built by the United States in the seventies. The situation is different and the transaction is rather more modest, but it is possible that the payment method may be similar.
Three members of the Brazilian military will be in Switzerland during the first half of February to define a 'memorandum of understanding' on the price and the conditions of the purchase. As it is a negotiation between governments, the transaction could include aircraft in exchange for products.
In any case, what has been confirmed is that the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) continues bargaining when it is buying outside the assembly line. "The FAB always negotiates compensation in all its acquisitions," confirms Brigadier General Marcos Antonio de Oliveira, the military attaché in Geneva.
In order to purchase the Swiss airplanes, Brasilia will receive a technology transfer that could be in another area and not necessarily in the aeronautics sector. The practice in negotiating compensation will be important for the future high-priced acquisition of 12 supersonic fighter planes, which will cost around $700 million. The open international bidding for the Brazilian contract attracted manufacturers from the US, France, Sweden, and Russia.
At the moment, the FAB can be content with more Tigers in its fleet. It already has 48 Tigers, which continue to have a good reputation in military circles. The Swiss planes were acquired in the seventies, but they have a reputation for being very reliable and durable, as the Brazilian military proved last year.
The 15 that Brazil is going to acquire are one-seaters, but they will be modified for two seats in Switzerland. The planes will be designated as trainers. Brazil declined the rest of the package offered by the Swiss, such as missiles to arm the planes and ammunition for the planes' cannons. Switzerland decided two years ago to sell off its 110 Tigers and renovate its fleet with F-18s. But the first deal, with the Philippine Armed Forces, was blocked by the US government in accordance with the contract it held with Switzerland. Internal tensions in the Philippines help to explain the blocking of the deal, although the fight against terrorism may have changed certain sentiments recently. Presently the Philippine military is engaged along with the US in the fight against the armed Islamic militants of Abu Sayyaf.
The deal with Brazil did not raise any objections from the Americans or from Swiss diplomats. The export of any armament, in the possession of a country or a private group, is subjected to a law on the matter in Switzerland. It does not matter how payment is made.