Brazil Wants U.S. Military Technology Transfer Restrictions Lifted
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE , Apr. 23, 2012 - BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil’s defense minister says he will press for the lifting of U.S. restrictions to military technology transfer in his upcoming talks with his American counterpart Leon Panetta. “It is very important that there be no obstacle to the acquisition of items with technological content,” Celso Amorim told the daily Folha de Sao Paulo on April 23. Amorim and Panetta are to meet here April 24 as part of the new Defense Cooperation Dialogue agreed during President Dilma Rousseff’s recent visit to Washington. Brasilia is now insisting on technology transfer in all its defense agreements.
Amorim referred to the U.S. restriction which blocked the sale of 24 Super Tucano light attack aircraft made by Brazil’s top aeronautics firm Embraer to Venezuela in 2006. The planes have U.S.-built components. The technology transfer issue is a key factor in Brazil’s decision expected within a few months on a tender for 36 multi-role combat aircraft.
U.S. aviation giant Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet is up against the Rafale fighter, made by French firm Dassault Aviation, and Swedish manufacturer Saab’s Gripen for the contract variously valued at between $4 billion and $7 billion.
In addition to technology transfer, Brasilia also wants some of the jet fighters to be assembled in this country, which according to analysts might favor the Rafale. But Boeing is said to be offering a better price.
Another irritant expected to come up in the Amorim-Panetta talks is the U.S. cancelation of a $380 million contract with Embraer to buy 20 AT-29 Super Tucano aircraft from Embraer for the Afghan army. Embraer and its U.S. partner Sierra Nevada were awarded the contract in December but the U.S. Air Force called off the deal in February after a legal challenge from rival Hawker Beechcraft Corp. The Pentagon has called for a new round of bidding for the contract, but in any case, the equipment will not be delivered before 2014.
The Brazilian-U.S. dialogue is also meant to resolve other issues such as the U.S. decision in 2008 to reactivate its Fourth Fleet in the South Atlantic, a strategic and resource-rich area where regional countries do not want any external military presence.
Panetta began his first Latin America tour in Colombia on April 23 and will also to visit Chile after Brazil in a bid to boost military cooperation and regional security ties.