Brazil recently launched a $480 million effort to develop precision missiles and rockets, part of a larger effort to revitalize its defense sector. In an email interview, Salvador Raza, a former Brazilian naval officer and current adjunct professor at National Defense University, and Peterson Silva, a doctoral student at the University of Sao Paulo, discussed the state of the Brazilian defense sector.
WPR: To what degree is Brazil independent in terms of arms production, and what systems does it need to import?
Salvador Raza and Peterson Silva: Brazil has developed significant know-how in the production of relatively sophisticated defense products tailored to regional/borderland, low intensity, short/conventional and nonintegrated warfare. Brazil’s technological maturity is evident in several systems, including Embraer's lightweight Super Tucano aircraft, which is competing for a U.S. Air Force contract, and the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms based on Embraer’s EMB-145 regional jets, the latest version of which was recently sold to the Indian air force. Many small and medium-sized companies, such as Akaer, which is now working with Saab on developing Gripen NG fighter aircraft, and Orbisat, which specializes in radar for aerial and ground surveillance, are part of the defense value chain along with other well-known Brazil defense players, such as Avibras, with its upgraded Artillery Saturation Rocket System (ASTROS 2020), and CBC, one of the world's largest ammunition manufacturers.