The US, on February 29, announced it was suspending a contract worth US$ 355 million to purchase 20 Super Tucano (AT-6) aircraft from the Brazilian aerospace firm, Embraer. The plane had been selected in a competitive bidding process. Most of the aircraft would have been built in Florida, by Embraer and an American partner, Sierra Nevada Corporation.
On March 2, Under Secretary of State, William Burns, was in Brasilia and told Brazilian authorities that the problem was “administrative,” that is, involving documents, meaning the deal faced legal questions (sub judice). Burns said those problems would be resolved quickly.
However, it is known that an American aircraft manufacturer, Hawker Beechcraft, also questioned the deal with Embraer. Its headquarters is in Kansas and Republican congressmen have criticized the deal because it would mean a loss of jobs in Kansas and, perhaps, the closing of a aviation manufacturing center in Wichita.
Hawker Beechcraft has reportedly gone to court to contest the decision by the US Air Force to buy the Super Tucanos. All this is a delicate issue in a presidential election year in the United States.
At the same time that the Super Tucano deal was put on hold, both Brazilian and American authorities quickly denied any connection between that deal and the long-pending Brazilian decision on new fighter jets.
Brazil should soon select a manufacturer for 36 jets among American Boeing, French Dassault and Swiss Saab options. That deal is worth many billions of dollars.
President Dilma Rousseff is scheduled to visit Washington between April 9 and 11, for a meeting with Barack Obama. A year ago the American president was in Brazil.
The presidents will discuss an ambitious program under which Brazil intends to send thousands to study in American universities through the program Science without Frontiers, along with cooperation in energy and trade questions.