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Brazil Considering Buying US F-16 Jets In Addition To Swedish Gripens

Janes (a noted resource for defense news and analysis) reported that an unnamed high-ranking Brazilian officer has disclosed that Brazil is negotiating to purchase 24 F-16 Fighting Falcons. Only Chile and (oddly enough) Venezuela operate F-16s in South America (although Argentina has just concluded a deal to purchase 24 retired Danish F-16s). While the US Air Force may no longer be purchasing the F-16, the list of export customers continues to grow.

Brazil to purchase old F-16s

The Brazilian Air Force’s strike capabilities are quite modest, and the future backbone of the strike wing is to be 40 Gripens that are gradually being delivered from Sweden (a deal worth over $5 billion). Brazil had been expected to purchase more Gripens, so the leak that they will purchase F-16s is something of a surprise. Janes suggests that the decision may have been partly due to budget constraints.

“Although the service was expected to purchase a second batch of Saab Gripen E/Fs, insufficient funding has led the FAB [Brazil Air Force] to search for cheaper options to replace its old fighter aircraft, the officer told Janes.” – Janes

Brazil formerly operated French-built Mirage 2000s, but these were replaced by F-5EM Tiger II light fighters. Brazil also operates a fleet of AMX International ground-attack aircraft – however, these are due to retire by the end of 2025. According to Janes, the negotiations are at an early stage, but the Brazil Air Force hopes to decide quickly—before the end of 2024.

While the F-16 has a stellar combat record, they are getting old and will be up against the latest Russian fighter jets and air defense.

Possible second-hand F-16s from US

Aeroflap reported that the Brazilian Air Force had confirmed interest in second-hand F-16s from the United States and said it was “collecting data to carry out a study on the possibility of acquisition.” Although it is unclear which old F-16s Brazil would be purchasing.

The F-16 remains in production in the United States as the upgraded F-16 Block 70/72 variant and is produced only for export. Some countries like Ukraine, Argentina, and Romania are receiving retired F-16 A/B Falcons from Denmark and Norway. Other countries like Bulgaria, Turkey, and Slovakia are purchasing brand new F-16 Block 70/72s.

Lt. Col. Kiwedin Cornell, 57th Operations Group deputy commander, prepares to launch an F-16 Fighting Falcon
Photo: USAF

The United States also has many retired F-16s (it plans to retire another 11 F-16s this year). The US Air Force normally keeps many of its retired F-16s in the desert at the massive boneyard at Davis-Monthan, Arizona. The US Air Force eventually retrofits them as target drones and remotely operated test platforms. Recently, the US Air Force has been making retired F-16s into zombie drones as part of ongoing work developing loyal wingman drones for the NGAD 6th-generation fighter.

Source: Simple Flying