Monday, January 2, 2012

The Brazil market for 2012: no big spender

BAE systems has finalized a deal with Brazil, selling them the 3 90-meters long OPVs originally built for Trinidad and Tobago but never delivered because Trinidad and Tobago terminated the contract due to BAE's delays. The deal will see the 3 ships head to Brazil, for 120 million pounds, plus 13 millions in training and support. The deal includes the acquisition of licence rights, with Brazil to build a minimum of 5 more OPVs at home.

But despite a 34,9 billion US dollars budget request made for 2012 by the Brazilian MOD, inclusive of an 18% increase in the procurement budget (to 4,38 USD billions) there is no mention of pursuing the long delayed F-X2 programme for a new fighter jet, nor is there a plan for signing contracts for the PROSUPER (Programa de Obtencao de Meios de Superficie) programme, a mammoth naval requirement for 11 ships (5 6000-tons frigates, 5 oceanic patrol vessels of 1750/1850 tons and a 20.000 tons Logistic Support Vessel).

While the F-X2 is expected by France to be the first major export success of Rafale (if the order will ever be finalized, and assuming that Gripen does not manage to gain the top instead, despite the promises made to Sarkozy by Lula, ex-president of Brazil), the PROSUPER is of great interest for the UK, which offered, jointly with BAE and at government level, a formidable solution based on the Brazilian participation into the Type 26 Global Combat Ship programme. The UK solution is a package of 5 Type 26, 5 90-meters OPVs one Wave-class support vessel.
An alternative, low-cost, immediately available proposal was made last year, but was rejected, and it involved the 4 Type 22 B3 frigates removed from the Royal Navy, the Trinidad and Tobago OPVs (plus more to be built locally) and the ex RFA Fort George oiler and replenisher ship. 

Brazil will not finance the F-X2 or PROSUPER for this year, according to budget planning. The Navy is giving priority to the development of the submarine fleet, with billions to be invested in a new base, in a new fleet of conventional submarines built with French assistance, and work for the design and development, again with french help, of what will be the country's first nuclear submarine.
73 millions will also finance further work on the patrol ships of the type NAPA-500.
65 millions are going into financing the start of work on acquiring a 1800-tons class of patrol vessels as well, under NAPA-1800.

The order for the Trinidad and Tobago OPVs placed in these days comes out of the wider PROSUPER programme, which effectively broke down into parts, with the frigates and support vessel decision-making still ongoing, while the OPVs are now selected and financed. The requirement was stated for 5 vessels, but now Brazil is buying 3 already built plus rights for "a minimum of 5 more": either they have expanded the requirement, or perhaps they are willing to use the same OPV hull for the NAPA-1800 requirement as well.

The Brazilian air force is to invest over 544 millions of Reals in the KC-390 cargo plane development, 309 millions for the SISCEAB surveillance system and 716 millions will go for upgrading platforms already in service.

There is also nearly a billion in funding for a new satellite communications system (SISCOMIS) and for the H-XBR medium utility helicopter, for which they will build locally a force of 50 EC-725.

For this year, both the Rafale and the Type 26 seens set to have to wait. But at the same time, the fact that Brazil decided to buy british for its OPV requirements might be a good sign that the military collaboration agreement is working, and hopefully it means their interest in the Global Combat Ship remains real and solid.


  1. I think you are leaving out a very potent contender for the FX-2, the Super Hornet. It's far cheaper than the Rafale and meets the operational requirements of the FAB (which are a shade lower than the likes of India or Japan given threat perceptions). Moreover Boeing has greater industrial synergy to offer to Embraer compared to Dassault or Saab. Then there's the whole political angle-buying warplanes from Europe after buying warships from Britain and a slew of submarines and other systems from France doesn't make sense.

    The recent USAF decision to go for the Super Tucano has heightened the Super Hornet's chances.

  2. You might prove right in time, of course, but i still see the Super Hornet being an outsider in that competition, at least for the moment. I think the Gripen has probably the best chances these days. I also have my doubts on the industrial offset offer of Boeing: it was touched up multiple times, but it was far from satisfactory or competitive. And Saab, with the Gripen NG, has just been able to offer its customers, including Switzerland, a formidable offset package.

  3. Gabriele

    Do you think that the decision to buy the 3 OPVs from BAE Systems (still a British-based firm) is an indication that the Brazilian government does not take the recent decision by the Mercosur group of countries incredibly seriously?

    You remember that a short time ago the members of that group (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay) decided to refuse entry to their ports by vessels carrying Falkland Islands flags.

  4. i think it sounds like a great deal for BAE. Opens up a whole new market. Good on them

  5. @MikeW

    Not necessarily. They will still keep british ships out of their ports, you can bet. But as long as they can, they will play nice to both parties. Working with the UK on certain deals is no issue. And buying 3 ready, good OPVs plus rights of production for the amount they paid... well, that was a big win for them.

    Originally, the 3 OPVs for Trinidad were to cost 150 million pounds (indeed probably BAE is still losing some money from the whole story despite the brazilian contract).

    As always, nations do not have friends, but interests. Being with Mercosur on the Falklands issue does not mean, at least for now, that Brazil can't do business with the UK.
    Especially when it is so good for them.

    And right now, made a couple of calculations, the UK needs Brazil more than Brazil needs the UK. So it is a bit of a complex issue.
    I just hope the Type 26 programme gains from this. It needs every help possible. The Type 26 is the RN's future at this point.

  6. Gabriele,

    I agree that Boeing has revised its offer a lot of times but the thing about offsets is....there's no such thing as a good offsets package or a bad one!!! That's because it's essentially a subjective decision unlike price or performance parameters. Which is why India seems to be taking ages to decide on the MMRCA.

    The industrial synergy argument that I talked about includes both military and collateral (space, commercial, logistics) aspects and Boeing indeed has a bit to offer than most rivals. A couple of months ago Embraer decided to drop plans to develop a large civilian aircraft and instead stick to its main range of medium aircraft, so in theory, they can and probably want to cooperate with Boeing into diversifying their portfolio.

    Again the political argument for Saab is weak in Brazil-it will make Brazil look like a European outpost. A large Super Hornet deal (up to 120 aircraft) can buy them significant lobbying power with Boeing and by extension, the US government.

  7. How much would Brazil effectively gain, and how much influence instead would the US gain on them by getting in on Embraer and having the possibility to strangle their air force by not providing spares?
    Making deals with the US is more dangerous than making them with european countries. I remain skeptical, sincerely.

  8. Gabriele

    Thanks for the reply. All that you say makes very good sense, particularly your point about how "being with Mercosur on the Falklands issue does not mean, at least for now, that Brazil can't do business with the UK."

    Thanks once again.

  9. Gabriele,

    You are right, of course but don't you think they would have taken that factor into account when they decided to shortlist the SH. India probably junked it for that reason along with performance, but Brazil is different. They have purchased arms from the US (F-5s, torpedoes and upgrades for their SSKs). Even the Super Tucano contains US origin systems, including an engine built by P&W Canada.

    Again, what would the US gain by deciding to strangle them-alienating the biggest dude on a continent is never a good idea. Especially when the likes of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador remain avowedly pro-left/Russian.

    Your argument also shows a drawback for the Gripen!!! It's engine is American built. No point in having great offsets if you can't fly your combat aircraft.

  10. It is hard to say why could make the US apply a strangling move on Brazil supplies, but it might happen. I don't think that relations are that good: south america has always had more than a tad of suspects against the north, so things could be awkward. You make some good point, but i sincerely continue to not see the Super Hornet having big chances. Of course, i could be proven wrong in time.

    @Mike W

    My pleasure to be of help.

  11. HMS Protector has been berthed alongside in Montevideo Uruguay since arriving there from Rio- De - Janero Brazil on the 30th Dec 2011.

    It appears that Argentina is once again 'crying' over the lack of solidarity after the statements recently put out by these countries.
    To rub salt into the wounds even further,Protectors next port of call ? Stanley,Falkland Isle.

  12. HMS Protector is not flagged in the Falklands and is technically a research ship with a secondary patrol role that has been conveniently overlooked.

    HMS Clyde was treated differently, along with other RN warships, and falklands-flagged vessels.

    Not surprising that the countries in there are trying to behave as nicely as possible to both the UK and Argentina at once.

  13. Yes I'm aware that she is not flagged in the Falklands,are you aware that she is carrying Royal Marines and whilst alongside an armed marine sentry is posted on the gangway ?.

    If any cause for complaint was needed that would be it,but not a word of dissent from the authorities in either of the South American ports she visited.

    She also flies the White Ensign.

  14. HMS Protector is not 'technically' anything

    She is actually a Royal Navy Antarctic Patrol Vessel, like her predecessors

  15. If you two like to believe that the South America issue has just been solved, do it.
    HMS Protector works in support of scientific bases in the south pole, that's the justification that Uruguay used for letting it into their port, as Juan Jose Dominguez, Vice President of the Uruguayan Ports Authority, ANP, said:

    "HMS Protector is a scientific research vessel, heading for Antarctica, it has visited Montevideo on several occasions, I believe the last time two or three years ago and I think it is common sense that conflicts should not extend to all that which is related to international agreements on scientific research in a continent”.

    Of course, two or three years ago it was not Protector but at most Endurance, but whatever...

    When asked specifically about the military guard at the head of the ramp, Dominguez said that “many of scientific activities in Antarctica and North Pole involve the navies of the world. This vessel is not fitted with cannons or guns; it’s a peaceful unit from the Royal Navy. Curiosity is normal because of recent events, but really these vessels are a common sight in Montevideo”.

    That she has marines on board and flies the White Ensign, is of little relevance. The point you are trying to make is obscure: trying to say that the Falklands issues are all solved now thet Protector was allowed in port? Think that Argentina is losing SOuth America support? That Uruguay will fight the british side on the issue?

    Answer is no to all of the above. Care to explain what your point is?

  16. My point is simply to clarify, she is an Antarctic patrol vessel, not a scientific research vessel. She might do scientific research but that doesnt alter the basic fact.

    Thats all

  17. Excuse me but who suggested that the South American issued had been solved,that is patently not true.
    All those statements made by the authorities are to be expected from diplomatic sources.

    To say that it is of no relevance that she carries Royal Marines and flys the White Ensign is simply incorrect.

    Also to say that somehow it is being suggested that Uruguay will fight on the British side,is to say the least disingenous.

    You seem to have misinterpreted the gist of the posts.

  18. I sure have. I don't even know why HMS Protector popped up on this post, sincerely. Not that i complain, any comment is welcome... but what was the point being made?

    As to the fact that she flies the White Ensign and carries Marines, sorry, but in this special case it is not relevant. Uruguay made an exception for HMS Protector, but we'll see if and when they let into port a Type 42 or 23 Falklands bound, and less than ever they are intentioned to let in HMS Clyde. Indeed, with all the noise that the Protector exception caused, things might just get worse.

    Or they could stay the way they are, with HMS Protector allowed in thanks to the relatively credible justification of its role in support of scientific work at the pole.
    As i've been saying all along, it is the easier way for Uruguay and other locals to stay on the good side of Argentina and of the UK at the same time.

    There is no news in this.


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