Brazil example of “smart defense” buyer: Future carrier and carrier aircraft

Brazil is a country the rest of the world – especially the US, NATO and EU – could learn a lot from. While “we” (thus US, NATO and EU) are thinking we know it all, and we know best… they the real “smart defence” buyers. They really put their ”national” interests above their “military industrial” interest. To point this out I wil give some examples, with a focus on their naval aviation and aircraft carrier projects.:

  • by demanding Transfer of Technology deals thus giving both industry and military a steep learning curve. For only 36 aircraft this will be a little bit expensive, but hey, if you want to build some 100 – 120 aircraft in total…..
  • Using proven and effective – better than that – cost effective – designs and improve the capability of their forces immensely.  Examples:

KC2 tanker

    • By choosing the GripenE, and choosing to build theme locally they also buy the ownerships rights and will be less dependable on others. (and with this increasing sovereignty.
    • The gripenE could also be developed in a “Sea Gripen” variant.


    • Upgrade of fighters for Navy and air force:  by upgrading some “old” fighters the Brazilian Air force and naval aviation unit will be able to have modern capabilities for a longer time.

Embraer has signed a US$140 million contract to modernize a dozen Skyhawk jet fighters operated by the Brazilian Navy. These include nine AF-1 single-seat fighters and three AF-1A (two-seat) fighter-trainers. This contract is the first large scale program Embraer has won wit the Brazilian Navy. The Navy currently has an inventory of 23 AF-1 Skyhawks. It followed two successful fighter modernization programs Embraer had with the Brazilian Air Force jets – upgrades of F-5BR fighters and A-1 AMX light attack jets.

Especially the induction of these new modern carrier capable Skyhawk’s will boost the capabilities of the Brazilian Defence forces. Besides the overhauling of current systems, the fighters will get new avionics, radar, engines, and autonomous oxygen generating systems.  But also integration of new missiles.

  • Using these “old” fighters and Tracker aircraft the Brazilian navy increases their potential and effectiveness with limited investment… to be able to follow a growth path to eventually build a new aircraft carrier… equipped with locally build naval fighters, effective tanker aircraft to increase the range and effectiveness, and a AWACS type of aircraft… without the big cost of e.g. the big megacarriers like their counterparts in the north..


“The idea is for it to be built in Brazil, probably based on an existing project,” Amorim told a group of foreign correspondents. Latin America’s largest country will require a new aircraft carrier within 15 years and will modernize its existing one in the meantime, Amorim said.


It is important to know that during the LAAD 2013 defense exhibition, SAAB showcased a carrier-based version of its Gripen called the “Sea Gripen”. According to Saab, the requirements established by the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet) so that the Gripen had STOL capabilities (Short Takeoff and Landing), i.e. ability to take off and land from short stretches of road, caused the aircraft to present performance and flying qualities similar to those required for aircraft specifically designed to operate from an aircraft carrier.

Finally, we recently learned that US Company General Atomics is activelly marketing its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) to several countries including Brazil.

(thanks to Naval Recognition for the quote above!)

This is the way I really like to see things. Big…. but effective investments in reasonable projects. Based on evolutionary design instead of start-from- scratch


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