Brazilian Ministry of Defence orders 86 Guarani armoured vehicles

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The Brazilian Ministry of Defence has signed a contract for initial production of the Guarani wheeled armoured vehicle, of which it plans to buy over 2,000 in the next 20 years.

The Brazilian Army and Iveco on August 7 signed the contract for the purchase of 86 VBTP MR wheeled armoured personnel carriers, better known as Guarani. The ceremony took place in the Hall of Honor of the Ministry of Defence and was attended by Minister Celso Amorim.

The signing took place four days after publication in the Official Gazette, the authorization to manufacture a batch of experimental evaluation vehicles, Lot Experiment Doctrinal (LED) of the new armoured vehicles, which will allow the restructuring of the Brazilian Army’s mechanized forces. The overall value of this initial batch is approximately 240 million Brazilian reals (US$118 milion).

These 86 vehicles allow Iveco, the prime contractor, to start production, in anticipation of the Army’s planned acquisition of 2,044 vehicles. The initial Guarani vehicles will be used by infantry and cavalry units of the land force, which will carry out operational trials of the product. Eventually, Guarani is expected to be delivered to the Army at a rate of about 100 units per year over the next 20 years.

During the ceremony, the President of Iveco Latin America, Marco Mazzu, said that he was proud to participate in the “renaissance of the defence industry in Brazil.” Minister Celso Amorim, in turn, said the start of production of the Guarani marks the implementation of the Defence Organization and Equipment Plan (PAED). He said that it is noteworthy that “the PAED is becoming reality,” and that its implementation will contribute to strengthen the Brazilian defence industry.

Amorim also noted that 48 of 86 vehicles under the contract were included in the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC) financing facilities of the Federal Government. Altogether, the Ministry of Defence will receive 1.527 billion reals’ (US$756 million) worth of PAC equipment. In addition to the 40 Guarani vehicles, the funds will be used for purchase of 4170 trucks and 30 Astros 2020 missile launch Vehicles. The transfer of the funds money was authorized in late June, through a Provisional Measure signed by President Rousseff.

Developed with Brazilian technology through a joint project between the Army Technology Centre and Iveco, part of the Fiat Industrial Group, the Guarani is a six-wheel drive amphibious vehicle that will serve as the basis for a new family of armoured multimission vehicles capable of carrying out reconnaissance and fire support missions.

The new vehicle weighs 18 metric tonnes and will replace the Urutu and Cascavel wheeled armoured vehicles developed in the 1970s by the former Engesa. The main feature of the Guarani is its modular design, allowing the incorporation of different turrets, weapons, sensors and communications systems on the same hull.

By its versatility, the project has attracted the interest of neighbouring countries that are also preparing to re-equip their militaries. During the first half of the year, there were preliminary talks with Argentina, which may initially buy 14 vehicles for use in joint peace-keeping missions with Chile.

The new vehicles will be produced at the factory entirely dedicated to the project, within Iveco’s industrial complex at Sete Lagoas (Mato Grosso state). To date, a single prototype has been officially delivered for testing to the Army Evaluation Centre. The large-scale production of the Guarani should begin in early 2013.

According to the forecast of the Brazilian Army, seven armoured vehicles will be ready by December this year. They are part of a total of a 16-vehicles pilot batch project. The Operational Experimentation Batch should comprise 38 vehicles by July 2013, and the remaining 48 by July 2014.

According to Iveco, production begins with a proportion of local content above 60%. When the plant is operating at full capacity, it will involve a supply chain in Brazil of about 110 direct and 600 indirect suppliers.

In addition to Minister Celso Amorim and the President of Iveco Latin America, Marco Mazzu, the signing ceremony was also attended by the Army commander, General Enzo Peri, the Chief of Joint Staff of Armed Forces (EMCFA), General Jose Carlos De Nardi, the head of the Department of Science and Technology of the Army, General James Sinclair Mayer, the Italian ambassador in Brazil, Gherardo La Francesca, and representatives of Iveco, as well as civil and military authorities.