LAAD 2011 Focus: Brazil

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Brazil has allocated about US$9 billion (15 billion Rais) for defense spending, but natural disasters hitting the country, required emergency funding, part of which will be allocated by slashing over a quarter of the 2011 defense spending, being reduced to $6.6 billion (around 11.2 billion Rais). Minister of Defense Nelson Jobim said in February that the reduction will apply mainly to operating and sustainment spending. But a few acquisition programs were also affected.

The UT-30BR comprises a low profile, armored, unmanned turret comprising the gun mount, target acquisition and fire controls, along with coaxial mount for machine gun (7.62 mm). The system also features an advanced fire control system with automatic target tracking, ballistic computing, sensors management and displays. The target acquisition system includes a dual-axis stabilized gunner’s sight, integrated laser rangefinder, video daylight and thermal cameras. Photo: Elbit Systems

Lacking a definitive cross-border threat, Brazil was slow to invest in major acquisition programs such as the FX-2 advanced fighter, aircraft carrier, submarines and armored vehicles modernization. Today, as Brazil is seeking major regional power position, the country is fully committed to naval modernization programs, helicopter acquisitions and the fielding of new armored vehicles, once decisions are made.

Within the land forces, current acquisition programs include the procurement of more than 2,000 medium armored vehicles. The VBTP-MR Guarani made by Iveco is already underway. Additional contracts for light armored vehicles are also expected. Since 2009 the Brazilian army also received 220 Leopard 1A5 tanks from German Army surplus, refurbished by the German manufacturer KMW. Fielding of night vision equipment, light weapons, ground surveillance radars are expected. Modernization of command and control networks, through the acquisition of advanced software defined radios is also in the planning. Intelligence support will be enhanced with the acquisition of modern electronic warfare and communications surveillance (COMINT) means. Mobile air defense systems are expected to bolster land forces defense against aerial attack.

The first fully modernized AMX is expected to fly in early 2012. Photo: Sgt. Johnson Barros, FAB

The Brazilian Air Force acquisition of the next FX-2 generation fighter and associated weaponry has been underway for several years, but decision has been delayed till 2012, due to budget constrains. For the FX-2, Brazil is evaluating three options – the Rafale, Gripen NG and Super Hornet. For the longer term, Brazil is planning to develop an advanced fighter, to be matured toward the end of this decade (around 2019). For this program preliminary offers for cooperation were submitted by Russia. Acquisition of new helicopters and unmanned aerial systems is already underway. Other major programs include the induction of locally developed and produced transport/tanker – the KC-X2 to be based on Embraer’s C/KC-390. In the coming years Brazil is also expected to field new multi-mission aircraft, including maritime patrol aircraft, electronic warfare support aircraft and airborne early warning platforms, these functions are currently supported by the locally built Embraer ERJ-145 platform.

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Developing space capabilities, Brazil is planning to launch reconnaissance satellites operating in a polar orbit supporting national security missions. Sofar the country relied on imagery obtained from commercial providers and on imagery obtained from three China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS) launched by the Chinese-Brazilian consortium since 1989. Brazil is planning to position communications satellites in geostationary orbit to superior coverage of the large country. To operate these assets Brazil plans to construct a central ground operations center, while supporting specific users in the different states via mobile ground control stations.

A satellite view of the Rio de Janeiro naval base, showing the Brazilian Navy aircraft carrier Sao Paolo, a Tupi submarine on a flaoting dock and three Inhauma class frigates at the port. Photo: Imagesat International

The Brazilian Navy has already embarked on construction of new nuclear powered and French designed Scorpene class conventional (diesel/electric) submarines, augmenting the five Type 209 subs currently being upgraded. The Navy has been refitting the ex-French Navy Clemenceau class aircraft carrier, the São Paulo since 2005. The new carrier should be ready for service in 2011. Brazil is planning to equip its new carrier with a revamped air wing, equipped with airborne early warning and flying tankers, utilizing the S-2T Turbo Tracker platform. For the time being, the combat element on the vessel relies on the obsolete A-4E Skyhawk, but as the new vessel will reach full operational capability, it is likely to attract new interest in the acquisition of modern carrier-based fighters such as the F-35B/C, Rafale or MiG-29K.

Enhancing internal security over the vast amazon region is given extra attention, with the acquisition of river transport vessel for the Amazon and Pantanal area and a hospital assistance vessel for the Amazon region. To enhance maritime security throughout Brazil’s Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) the Navy is planning to operate an Italian designed 1,800 ton Oceanic Patrol Vessel (OPV), multi-purpose escort ships and a logistics support vessel. The first two NAPA class 500 ton ‘Vigilante’ class patrol vessels have been commissioned since 2009 with additional four being underway. Brazil aims at building 17 such vessels. The Navy is also planning to field new amphibious support vessels. Improving the proficiency of crews by advanced simulation and enhanced capabilities through the fielding of more advanced combat systems and maritime electronic warfare systems, in support of surface and sub-surface operations.

A new structure of the ministry of defense is promoting better coordination among various branches, and increased interoperability through the creation of a joint staff. The military is also on the way to implement new, network-enabled, joint-operations doctrine. This structure also enables the military to enhance internal security operations, in support of law enforcement programs undertaken by the federal and local authorities.

Brazil’s homeland security market has grown significantly in recent years and is expected to surpass current national investment in defense, as the country prepares laying the infrastructure in support of major international events in coming years. Among these events are the World Military Games to be held in July in Rio de Janeiro, hosting 5,000 athletes from 110 countries; the FIFA World Cup planned for 2014, will take place in 12 venues across the country; Brazil is expected to spend US$2.8 Billion on security and over $8.6 Billion on infrastructure improvements toward these games. By 2016 Brazil will host the summer Olympic Games. Toward this event, the country will spend additional $1.4 billion on security and $10 billion on venues and infrastructure. (Read more about Brazil’s HLS opportunities.)