During LAAD 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian Defence Minister Raul Jungmann talked to Mönch regarding the nation’s current defence programmes and major perceived threats. Santiago Rivas reports.
Despite the economic crisis Brazil is undergoing, the major defence programmes are not facing cancellation, though development and acquisition programmes have slowed down in some cases, Brazilian Defence Minister Raul Jungmann explained to Mönch at LAAD 2017 on 5 April. He explained that the country has a current deficit of over U$42 billion and this means that, since defence has to shoulder its portion of the burden, equipment expenditure has to be cut, since personnel and infrastructure expenditure leaves less room for manoeuvre.
He went on to explain that they are working hard on financing and offset programmes, not only for equipment procurement, but also for Brazilians arms exports. In this regard they are working with other government agencies to develop offset programmes allowing for payments from other states to be made in kind, for example in agricultural products.
As for local programmes, Jungmann indicated the purchase of air defence missiles, despite being delayed, has not been cancelled. Following the Navy’s decision to retire the SAO PAULO aircraft carrier, he declared, “the Navy has for many years pursued the capacity to operate embarked planes. The SAO PAULO made that possible, but, due to the age of the ship and the costs to modernise her, it was decided to retire her. Now we will try to keep the capacity, operating the SKYHAWKs of VF-1 Squadron until the end of their life, while we are looking for a new carrier. This programme has now become the third priority for the force, after the submarine programme (PROSUB) and the TAMADARE-class corvette programme. We have not yet defined the kind of aircraft-carrier.”
As far as programmes for the Army are concerned, he indicated the 8x8 armoured vehicle is the first priority, adding, “we are at the stage of studies to define the model and the armament, but we are aiming to have a 105mm gun.”
For the Embraer KC-390 programme, which is one of the most important for the Air Force, discussions are being held to release the budget to finish the certification process on time, he said, despite the fact the government is reducing defence spending on defence and this is affecting the construction of the third and fourth prototypes.
Security is a major issue for the country: Jungmann declared that, “the priority on safety is on the borders. The country currently doesn’t have any border dispute, but there are problems with transnational crime, like drugs, arms and people trafficking, smuggling and others.”
In this respect, Jungmann described SISFRON, the border monitoring system, as one of the main tools being developed to control borders, adding they are working with neighbouring countries so they all have similar systems. “Today it is not possible to resolve the problems of transnational crime only within (our own) borders,” he stated.
Brazil is therefore working on sharing intelligence information with other countries and on projects to control borders together with Argentina. He indicated that a recent and very productive meeting had been held with Colombian authorities with the same objective.
Jungmann stated that, “while we are very happy with the peace process in Colombia, we are worried that, after the disarmament of the FARC, some of their weapons could end up on the black market and reach Brazil or other countries in the region”. Brazil also supports the peace talks with the ELN group in Colombia.
Another security programme, Operation "Agata,” which has been running for some time, involves multiple government agencies, including the armed and security forces. “But the programme became predictable as the operations were announced and the results were decreasing. So, we changed the tactic for a surprise one and, starting with intelligence, then making very rapid ‘in and out’ incursions, achieved very good results. Also, we are blocking the rivers on the borders,” Jungmann stated.
In urban security operations, Brazilian defence forces have conducted seven law and order maintenance operations over the last ten months, at the request of state governors. They also participate in inspections of federal prisons, using high technology assets acquired for the Olympic Games, to find weapons, communication devices and other contraband.
Jungmann admitted a degree of preoccupation with the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis, “as an example, in three months the cases of malaria in Roraima state went from about 40 to more than 1,000,” because of the immigration of destitute people from Venezuela, he explained.