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Officials Say USAF Still Interested In Super Tucanos

Brazilian Government Had Expressed 'Surprise' At Contract Cancellation

A U.S. State Department official has assured the government of Brazil that the U.S. Air Force is still interested in purchasing A-29 Super Tucano aircraft for its LAS program after the contract was abruptly cancelled Monday.

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns told Brazil that the decision is not a reflection on the A-29, which he said is "a very fine aircraft." He said that the problem was with "internal processes," but that the U.S. government remains interested.

The French news service AFP reports that the Brazilian government had sent a strongly-worded statement in which it expressed "surprise" at the manner and timing of the cancellation of the contract.

Burns said that the cancellation was not linked to an ongoing bidding war between Boeing, Dassault, and Saab for 36 fighter jets for the Brazilian Air Force worth up to $7 billion. He said they were "separate issues," but added that he was certain the F/A-18 is the best aircraft for that mission.

Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz said earlier this week that a new bidding process for the LAS contract would be expedited. The aircraft will be placed in service in Afghanistan as part of a NATO troop drawdown.

FMI: www.state.gov

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