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    Brazil sets up fund for Army’s armored vehicle, missile capabilities

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    SAO PAULO — The Brazilian government has launched fund to dedicated to Army capabilities, including the acquisition and development of armored vehicles from the Italian manufacturer Iveco Defence, Astros missile system from Avibras and more.

    The plan is part of the Growth Acceleration Program, or PAC, announced by the government in August. The effort is set to spend about 53 billion reals (U.S. $11 billion) on defense. Some of that money will go toward an armored forces strategic program, the Army told Defense News.

    “This program has a profound impact not only on the modernization of military capabilities but also on the development of critical technologies,” the Army told Defense News in a Sept. 20 statement.

    The focus on armored vehicles will see various types manufactured by the Iveco, which opened a local factory 10 years ago as part of its work with the Army, the service explained. Types include six-wheel drive Guarani armored vehicles, four-wheel drive multitask Guaicuru armored vehicles, eight-wheel drive Centauro combat vehicles, six-wheel drive Cascavel medium reconnaissance vehicles, and modernized Leopard 1 tanks made by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

    The tank modernization effort was previously postponed “due to high demand for armored vehicle parts in the international market,” the military reported Sept. 17.

    The Astros missile system is part of an overall effort to “contribute to the organization of missile and rocket artillery,” enabling long-range and high-precision strategic fire support, the Army said.

    Earlier this year, Avibras unveiled new variants of the weapon: the Astros II MK6 and the Astros III. The former has a maximum range of 300 kilometers (186 miles). The latter, which has greater firepower, is designed to operate from an eight-wheel drive vehicle and can launch ballistic rockets, guided rockets, ballistic missiles and tactical cruise missiles, according to the company.

    Another part of the investments is directed toward the Army’s aircraft and drones. The military reported aircraft acquisition efforts include “maneuver helicopters” used to transport troops and equipment. According to the armed forces, these helicopters would weigh more than 7.5 tons and could contribute to civilian missions, such as national emergencies.

    According to the government, the PAC investment effort is funding the modernization of six HM-1A Pantera helicopters, manufactured by Brazilian firm Helibras, a subsidiary of the French company Airbus Helicopters. The company this year delivered the first modernized unit.

    The plan also includes “the acquisition of ten general-purpose helicopters,” the military announced, without providing further details. However, the force has an aviation battalion composed of Helibras-made Caracal helicopters, which are known as HM-4 Jaguars within the Army. They were made under Brazil’s H-XBR project, which involves all three armed forces and continues to provide aircraft for the military.

    Another part of the project involves the purchase of nine drones. According to the Army, which did not identify the manufacturers involved, these unmanned aircraft will belong to categories 0 through 2, which vary in terms of operating altitude and range. Category 0 corresponds to drones weighing up to 2 kilograms (4 pounds). Category 1 ranges from 2 kilograms to 150 kilograms, and the third category ranges from 150 kilograms to 600 kilograms.

    Pedro Pligher is a Latin America correspondent for Defense News. He has reported on politics, economics and the Brazilian small arms industry.



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