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Brazil, Russia to build jet fighter

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

BRASILIA, Brazil —  Brazil and Russia signed an agreement on Tuesday to jointly develop top-line jet fighters and satellite launch vehicles.

Brazil's Strategic Affairs Minister Roberto Mangabeira Unger told reporters the agreement will lead to the development of fifth-generation jet fighters that are built using sophisticated engineering, such as composite materials, stealth technology and advanced radar.

The agreement signed by Unger and the deputy secretary of Russia's Security Council, Valentin Sobolev, includes the construction of rockets capable of hurling several kinds of satellites into space.

Brazil builds its own small and medium-size rockets that are launched from the Alcantara base in the northeastern state of Maranhao.

The base is considered an excellent launch site because it is located just 2.3 degrees south of the equator, the line at which the Earth moves the fastest, helping propel rockets into space with less fuel.

Tuesday's agreement calls for advanced training in the field of cybernetics, which Mangabeira called "essential for the defense and the technological evolution of our industry." It also involves the transfer of technology, something Brazil has always insisted on.

Earlier this year, France aid it would transfer technology to the Brazil for construction of the Scorpene attack submarine, helicopters and the Rafale fighter plane.

The Scorpene is a conventional attack submarine, but Brazilian officials have said they want the diesel-powered vessel to serve as a model for the development of a nuclear submarine that would be the first in Latin America.

University of Brasilia political scientist David Fleischer said the agreement may not advance very far because Russia may limit the transfer of technology for the fighter jets.

"The problem is that the Russians have never been all that keen on technology transfer," Fleischer said. "But then again the Russians may want to beat out the French, so the deal could eventually go through."

"A deal with Russia, together with Venezuela's recent purchases of Russian weapons, could spark an arms race in South America," Fleischer added.

Venezuela recently bought 53 Russian-made attack helicopters, 100,000 assault rifles, 24 Sukhoi fighter jets, 12 military transport planes and 5,000 sniper rifles.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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