By Jaylan Boyle, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Major players in the international defense industry continue to vie for Brazil’s business, as South America’s largest economy finds more room in their budget spending for the military. New plans were announced recently to increase Brazil’s armed forces in accordance with the defense procurement budget growth.
Recently, American aircraft manufacturer Boeing has indicated that they are prepared to sign off on a series of partnerships with Brazil’s domestic defense contractor Embraer, that would see assembly and manufacture of parts for the Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet transferred to Brazil.
The deal will mean that Boeing would need to build a new plant here, probably be situated in Sao Jose dos Campos, in São Paulo state, one of the most important industrial centers in Latin America. The parts that would be manufactured here include the nose, wings and tail.
“Never before has Boeing offered such a broad, clear package of technology transfer dedicated to Brazil,” Joseph McAndrew, Boeing’s vice president for Europe, Israel and America, told Valor magazine.
The deal between Boeing and Embraer has been seen as a sweetener aimed at strengthening Boeing’s bid to supply the Brazilian Air Force with 36 fighter jets, a contract said to be valued at between US$4-7 billion.
After a series of delays, outgoing president da Silva said earlier this month that a decision would be made ‘soon’ as to which of the shortlist of manufacturers would be awarded the contract. In early October, it was announced that the race is between Boeing’s F18, French contractor Dassault’s Rafale, and SAAB’s Gripen.
The contract would be fulfilled within fifteen years, and is in accordance with the Brazilian Air Force’s goal of increasing and replacing it’s entire fleet within that time-frame.
Brazil’s Navy also just announced plans to procure six nuclear submarines, up from four as reported in August 2009.
French shipyard DCNS is responsible for developing the submarines, of which the first, ear-marked at R$4.7 billion is the most expensive due to research and design costs. After the first is delivered, the rest will be manufactured at Itagui, Rio de Janeiro, which will become Brazil’s submarine base.
The Brazilian Navy also appears to want to control the uranium enrichment process, used to fuel the nuclear subs, with reports saying that the uranium gas needed is ready to go. The Navy will also be invigorating it’s conventional submarines, with plans to buy twenty and refurbish it’s existing fleet of five subs, including the Tikuna which was developed in Brazil.
The defense ministry has said that the submarine program is designed to protect and monitor Brazil’s massive offshore petrochemical reserves. “If this plan goes through it would certainly solidify Brazil’s position as the most capable fleet in South America” commented a U.S. Naval expert.
With Brazil on a spending spree, the armed forces will become a major factor in the region, a situation recognized by the U.S. military when it signed a defense treaty with Brazil last April.