Mönch: The Brazilian Armed Forces have several different current modernisation and procurement plans; could you describe these briefly?
Raul Jungmann: The National Defense Strategy (NDT), launched in 2008, established the need to restructure the operational capacity of the armed forces and stressed the importance of our national defense industry being the main provider of such equipment. As a result, our Industrial Defense Base (IDB) is now included in all the strategic projects that seek not only to equip the armed forces with modern systems and equipment, but also to ensure that our industries participate in important technology, generating knowledge and expertise for several other areas besides the military.
In the case of the Brazilian Navy, the Marine Nuclear Program (PNM) stands out, which gave the country expertise in the nuclear fuel production cycle for peaceful purposes. In addition [I would point out] the Subsea Development Program (PROSUB), which aims to design and build four conventional and one nuclear powered submarine in Brazil.
Within the immense challenge of monitoring the nearly 17,000km of land borders, the Brazilian Army created the Integrated Border Monitoring System (SISFRON), which will include state-of-the-art technologies, satellites and radars capable of monitoring this vast territory in real time, promoting Brazilian industry and generating jobs in the country. Also in the Army’s purview we have the GUARANI Armoured Family Project, which consists of the development of combat vehicles in several categories and the Cyber Defence Project, created to ensure the security and fluidity of the country's strategic information.
In the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), we can highlight the F-X2 project for the initial acquisition of 36 aircraft, the result of a cooperation agreement with Sweden that will allow Brazil to dominate the production of supersonic jets. Still in the field of aircraft, the KC-390 project, developed by Embraer, is in the final phase of rationalisation of the production process. In addition to expanding the operational capacity of the Brazilian Air Force, the project will have robust mechanisms to ensure commercialisation of the product, with the creation of an international credit line for partner countries in the acquisition of aircraft.
In the space field, the Space Systems Strategic Programme (PESE) seeks to assure Brazilian autonomy in production, launch, operation and replacement of space systems, based on the development of dual-use products and boosting the country's technological and industrial capacity. Within this context, Brazil will soon have a more secure and independent way to manage its information communications with the launch of the Geostationary Defense and Strategic Communications Satellite (SGDC). The goal of this project is to provide secure and sovereign means for strategic and defence communications as well as bringing critical space technologies to the country through absorption and technology transfer programs.
Mönch: Can you elaborate on the state of cooperation between the Brazilian MoD and those of other South American countries?
Raul Jungmann: Cooperation with countries in South America occurs on several fronts and at different levels. They can be in both the operational and military training environments, with the latter covering training activities and preparation for peace operations, support for humanitarian demining and support to combat transnational illicit borders, even productive and commercial cooperation.
Mönch: To provide Brazil’s armed forces with the equipment they need, what improvements would you make to the procurement system?
Raul Jungmann: The Brazilian defence industry is responsible for a large part of the country's technological development. Today, Brazil has companies of the size of Embraer, born of projects that seek to re-equip our armed forces with the most modern in the world. In this sense, Brazil seeks international partnerships that are not limited to the mere purchase of equipment. With this strategy, we enter into a win-win game, not only with the training of Brazilian companies and professionals, but also in joint development actions that allow the integration of defence products into global value chains.
Mönch: Tell us how the wide-ranging economic difficulties in Brazil have impacted the armed forces’ modernisation agenda?
Raul Jungmann: In general, we can say that the government has made great efforts to ensure the maintenance of priority strategic projects, guaranteeing resources in the budget law so that these enterprises can succeed, and especially to meet the expectations of capacity increases, both productive and operational.
However, considering the fiscal reality that we live in, we need to move forward and innovate. First, defence industry policy must be a state policy and perceived by society as essential, not only to ensure national sovereignty but also to ensure technological independence. This change of perception is the central guideline of our work.
Within this context, the material needs of the armed forces must be an effective instrument of industrial policy. The domestic vector alone will not be enough to allow Brazilian industry to operate lucratively.
Mönch: What are your main priorities for the immediate future?
Raul Jungmann: One of our priorities will certainly be to complete the review of the regulatory framework for the defence sector. In addition, we need to structure and expand our business intelligence, and the institutional mechanisms of the government-to-government relationship in the defence industry.