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Brazil lashes out after military contract canceled

March 2, 2012 |  3:01 pm

REPORTING FROM SAO PAULO -- Brazil has warned the U.S. government that the abrupt cancellation of a contract to buy Brazilian warplanes for the U.S. Air Force could damage military relations between the two countries.

Before it was revoked without explanation this week, the deal to purchase 20 Embraer Super Tucano light fighters -- Super Toucan in English -- was seen as a sign that relations with Latin America’s largest country were improving. President Dilma Rousseff plans to visit Washington next month.

“The Brazilian government learned with surprise of the suspension of the bid process to purchase A-29 Super Tucano aircraft by the United States Air Force, in particular due to its manner and timing,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement. “This development is not considered conducive to strengthening relations between the two countries on defense affairs.”

This would have been the first Air Force purchase of aircraft from Brazil, an Embraer representative said Friday.

The official explanation for the decision was a problem in the documentation for the $355-million contract, but the Air Force has not yet said what the specific problems were.

The unexpected cancellation was an “embarrassment,” U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told reporters Wednesday. “There’s no way to put a happy face on this.”

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-- Vincent Bevins 

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