Brazil acquires arms from a range of international suppliers, as well as its domestic arms industry.
According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Brazil was the 35th biggest importer of major conventional weapons between 2009-2018. Its main suppliers were Germany (34%), the USA (22%), and the UK and Russia (10% each). France and Israel were also significant suppliers at 8.7% and 6.6% respectively.
These figures cover equipment already delivered. Major recent deals, some of with delivery still pending, include the following:
Brazil ordered four Scorpene submarines and one SNBR nuclear submarine from French state shipbuilder Naval Group in 2009, for €6.8 billion, with most construction to occur in Brazil. Both the contract won by Odebrecht for building naval and shipbuilding facilities, and the main submarine contract itself, have been the subject of corruption investigations in Brazil and France.
Brazil also bought a total of 48 EC725 Super Cougar helicopters from Airbus France, for €1.9 billion under two contracts in 2009 and 2012. Deliveries of the helicopters are ongoing. They are produced locally by Brazilian Airbus subsidiary Helibras.
Swedish company Saab signed a $5.8 billion deal in 2015 to sell 36 JAS-Gripen-E/F combat aircraft to Brazil, with much production to take place locally, along with major technology transfer. Delivery is expected to start in 2019.
This deal has also been the subject of corruption allegations. A Brazilian consulting firm, Marcondes & Mautoni (M&M), were paid $2 million by Saab in relation to the deal, and in turn made payments of $1.2 million to Luis Claudio Lula da Silva, son of the former Brazilian President – allegedly for ex-President Lula to use his influence over his successor, Dilma Roussef, to swing the deal in Saab’s favour. However, there is no clear evidence that Lula’s influence had any impact on the ultimate decision, and no suggestion that Roussef herself received any bribes. This and other corruption allegations against Lula are widely suspected of being politically motivated.
Germany has supplied 220 Leopard tanks to Brazil, and a variety of other armoured vehicles, and is producing the engines for the Scorpene submarines.
Brazil has traditionally bought only a small proportion of its weapons from the UK. However, the UK government is trying hard to change this and arms sales to Brazil have increased substantially in recent years.
Two major exports authorised in 2018 were:
- eight Super Lynx anti-submarine warfare helicopters, for £106 million, from a deal agreed in 2014, upgrading Brazil’s existing Lynx Mk21 helicopters
- the Royal Navy helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, sold to Brazil in February 2018 for £84 million, and delivered that September.
Most other UK exports to Brazil have been for aircraft and components, and military electronics. There are also major UK components in the Saab Gripen fighter aircraft, 36 of which were ordered by Brazil from Sweden for $5.8 billion in 2015, including the radar system and the landing gear.
The UK government has also licensed the sale of nearly £4 million of small arms and accessories to both military and law enforcement end-users in Brazil. It reported delivering 872 submachine guns and 777 assault rifles to Brazil from 2013 to 2017. Such equipment is of particular relevance for repression and human rights abuses in the favelas and elsewhere.
Israel has supplied Brazil with a variety of radar and other electronics systems for the modernisation of fighter, transport and reconnaissance aircraft, as well as UAVs and missiles.