Embraer wins US Air Force deal for Afghan planes
WASHINGTON/SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s Embraer SA won a US Air Force deal on Wednesday to supply 20 light attack planes for counterinsurgency missions in Afghanistan, tightening US-Brazilian defence ties after a politically charged bidding process.
Embraer and its privately held partner, Sierra Nevada, beat out US-based Hawker Beechcraft for the $428 million deal, the Brazilian planemaker’s first with the US armed forces.
With the “seal of quality” from the world’s biggest defence spender, the head of Embraer’s defence unit Carlos Aguiar said he anticipated more demand for the single-engine turboprop Super Tucano from potential clients in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
“We know other countries were waiting for the result,” Aguiar said in a telephone interview.
“With the United States itself, as we show we can deliver on the contract, this order can definitely grow and there will be other needs we can meet.” The contract was also good news for Chicago-based Boeing Co, which is bidding to overhaul Brazil’s Air Force with more than 36 new fighter jets worth at least $4 billion, in a closely watched race against France’s Dassault Aviation and Sweden’s Saab.
“This is obviously a very good development for Boeing. It’s the best thing that’s happened to them in months (in the fighter jet race),” said a senior Brazilian official on condition of anonymity. The official did not elaborate.