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.