The Brazilian army purchased 250 German leopard 1 A5 tanks which will be displayed mainly along the country’s 16.000 kilometres of land and fluvial borders thus reinforcing its dissuasive capacity in the event of foreign attacks. The program is also part of the National Defence Strategy, NDS, approved last December by President Lula da Silva.
The 42 tons tanks with a cannon capable of firing at a distance of four kilometres and with a unit cost of half a million US dollars, should begin arriving in Brazil in three months and the first batch will be dispatched to Santa Maria in the southern most state of Rio Grande do Sul.
“The Leopard 1 A5 will be the backbone of the Brazilian Army, a unit which will give new dimension to Brazil’s armoured combat vehicles boosting our dissuasive powers”, according to the Juiz Fora Federal Univiersity strategic studies centre.
Brazil currently has 40 tons Leopard 1 A1 tanks that will be reassigned once the A5 are refurbished in the country. Negotiations for the purchase were started back in 2006 and a few are already in Brazil for training and trial purposes.
The NDS program is based on the investment of 15 billion US dollars in the next few years to reequip Brazilian armed forces including the building of the country’s first nuclear submarine with French technical aid, and the purchase of 24 fighter-bombers for the Air Force.
The financial crisis has slowed the disbursement of funds but the Senate is scheduled to begin addressing the legal framework for much of this investment.
The Brazilian Army recently presented a report warning of the “emergency” situation of the force since much of its equipment is “unusable or out of service. The report recommends investing 2 billion US dollars in the next few years.
Brazil in the seventies and eighties had established a formidable arms and military hardware industry to supply the third world, but with the return of democracy the government ceased to support it.
However President Lula da Silva considers that re-launching a strong military industry with technological research is essential if Brazil is to continue playing a leading role in world affairs.