The integrated frontier monitoring system SISFRON is the second major defense competition in Brazil. The first, for the purchase of multirole jet fighters for the Brazilian air force under an FX-2 program, is still being decided by President Dilma Rousseff.
Embraer indicated it will bid for the first phase of SISFRON, likely to be worth $400 million. The entire network for the SIStema Integrado de monitoramento de FRONteiras will involve security coverage of 11 Brazilian border states and international frontiers with 10 neighboring countries.
More than 10,000 miles of the border will need to be secured by the system envisioned by the Ministry of Defense.
The first phase work sought by Embraer will include only the initial work on the grand plan, likely to be extended over at least a decade.
Brazil embarked on a major overhaul of its defense infrastructure as it began developing major offshore reserves of hydrocarbons. Brazil's economic prosperity also led to an influx of economic migrants from neighboring countries, drug and human trafficking, organized crime and poaching of resources in the Amazon.
SISFRON is an ambitious plan to secure Brazil against a whole range of security threats and is likely to lead to procurement of advanced hardware and software from a range of international sources.
Unmanned airborne craft, ground vehicles, river and naval craft and advanced monitoring and observation systems are included in the plan but it's not clear if Embraer can deliver everything that will be required or if it needs to enter into partnerships or if Embraer is likely to be challenged by foreign bidders.
Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim, who received the pilot project recently, didn't outline details of how the $4 billion would be spent over the next 10 years.
As with most Brazilian defense and security projects, Brazil has set sights on acquiring and developing new technologies that can adapt to its model and then market its own products abroad.
Embraer Chief Executive Officer Luiz Carlos Aguiar indicated before the Farnborough International Airshow in England the company's bid for the first phase of the security cordon fulfilled its ambition to diversify from aviation and conventional defense production into high-tech security products and services.
"It's a very complex project," Aguiar said, indicating implementation of the full project could lead to Embraer exploring new areas of expertise.
As part of preparations for its bid, Embraer has bought stakes or partnered with companies that include C4I specialist Atech, radar maker Orbisat, satellite house Visiona and mini-UAV maker Santos Lab.
Embraer also has set up a joint venture with Israel's Elbit Systems to build UAVs for border patrols and other tasks for Brazilian security forces.
Embraer signed up with Telebras telecommunications company to develop capacity in satellite communications.
Brazil's diverse geography, tough conditions in the Amazon region and a long maritime border are among challenges faced by Embraer and other bidders.
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