Publication: Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 11

Military-technical cooperation was also high on Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso’s agenda, and the announcement on January 14 of a package of agreements between the Russian state arms export company Rosoboroneksport and the Brazilian rocket and missile maker Avibras Aerospacial SA emerged as a highlight of Cardoso’s two-days of talks in the Russian capital. Details were not available on several of the agreements. This was not the case, however, with the most important of them–a deal under which Avibras could work with Russia’s Sukhoi military aircraft company to produce Su-35 fighter jets for Brazil. The deal vaults Sukhoi into position as one of several top contenders for a US$700 million contract by which the Brazilian air force will buy twenty-four new aircraft in order to upgrade its aging fleet of fighter planes. The Sukhoi-Avibras combination is hardly the favorite to win the tender, but Moscow could be well served by the Russian side’s declared willingness to license technology so that much of the Su-35 production can take place in Brazil. As Cardoso himself made clear during his Moscow visit, this will be a key consideration in the Brazilian government’s decision on an aircraft supplier. Rosoboroneksport has negotiated similar production-license agreements with India and China. Russia is reported to be lobbying hard for the Brazilian contract, which, if won, would undoubtedly help Russian arms exporters achieve their goal of cracking the South American arms market and diversifying their customer base.