Brazil sees growth in regional arms sales

Feb. 21, 2012 at 4:40 PM
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SAO PAULO, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Brazil is moving toward implementing plans to develop its defense industry market in Latin America and the Caribbean.

An exponential increase in Brazilian aviation and defense industries was predicted by experts as the government began investing billions of dollars on reviving factories that had been neglected in the first decade of transition to civilian rule from military dictatorship.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, both outlined a future for Brazil's defense industries that puts emphasis on building regional markets and replacing major international suppliers of aviation and defense inventories.

Rousseff secured partnerships with Cuba to help its sanctions-ridden economy transform itself into a market economy. Close collaboration in aviation, defense and security industries was discussed when the Brazilian president met with Cuban President Raul Castro, Fidel Castro and senior government officials.

This week Peru announced it would consider a range of Brazil-built aircraft to refurbish its armed forces. Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer is in the lead as the potential supplier of multipurpose aircraft and tactical vehicles for Peruvian armed forces.

Among aircraft offered for potential sale to Peru are the EMB 314 Super Tucano light attack aircraft and the KC-390 tactical transport aircraft.

The Super Tucano, equipped with fourth-generation avionics and weapons systems, is currently in service outside Brazil with the air forces of the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Burkina Faso, and has been ordered by Indonesia, Angola and the United States.

The Super Tucano was selected in December last year by the U.S. Air Force for its Light Air Support program, which anticipates an initial order of 20 aircraft.

The Super Tucano has proved its effectiveness in cross-border surveillance operations in the Amazonian jungle where airborne smuggling of drugs and sometimes people remains a problem. The attack aircraft was deployed for Brazil's Amazonian Surveillance System and won support in neighboring countries.

Avionics for the aircraft were developed by Israel in collaboration with Israel's Elbit Systems, although initially Brazil considered GEC-Marconi for the same purpose.

Analysts say Brazil sees the Pacific and Asia regions as a natural extension of the regional market.

"The Asia Pacific market has enormous potential," Embraer Senior Vice President Geraldo Gomes said.

Designed to operate in inhospitable environments, under rigorous conditions, where there is little infrastructure support, the Super Tucano can perform such missions as counterinsurgency, reconnaissance and support of ground troops and offer more than 130 proven and operational weaponry configurations.

Embraer says the Super Tucano has 182 firm orders and 156 aircraft delivered.

Embraer is also pushing its EMB 145 AEW&C intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, which it has sold to Mexico and other countries outside the region.

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