Military co-operation between Brazil and South Africa grows


South Africa and Brazil will increase defence co-operation, with the most immediate benefit going to the South American country as it prepares to host next year’s international soccer showpiece – the FIFA World Cup.

After hosting the 2010 edition of the event, South Africa will now share its experience and the expertise gained in providing security for the high profile tournament.

Speaking after the inaugural meeting of the joint Brazil/South Africa defence committee in Brasilia earlier this week, SA National Defence Force head of communication Siphiwe Dlamini said “a detailed discussion” on sharing of the defence force’s operational experiences during the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup was well met.
“The Brazilian delegation, led by Fleet Admiral Carlos Augusto de Sousa, head of strategic affairs in the Brazilian Ministry of Defence, showed keen interest in the management, command, control and co-ordination through South Africa’s national joints structure (officially the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure) of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.”

There were also discussions regarding peace support operations as Brazil is involved in such missions in Haiti, while South Africa is committed to a number of continental peace support and peacekeeping operations. These range from being part of UN and AU missions to the deployment in the Central African Republic.

Military to military co-operation decided on at the meeting includes training of various types and exchange programmes. Training South African soldiers in jungle warfare was identified as an important component Brazil could offer. Along with diving, mountaineering and riverine operations these are all military skills that fit into the African theatres of operation where the SANDF is deployed.

According to Dlamini, the Brazil military showed “interest” in its members attending courses at the SANDF peace support training centre. Other areas of co-operation identified were military science courses, Portuguese language training and joint submarine training.

The South African delegation was led by SA Air Force Chief Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang in furtherance of a bilateral co-operation agreement signed between the two countries ten years ago.

While this week’s meeting was the first formal one, military contact between the two countries has been ongoing since the agreement was signed. The most visible of these has been the IBSAMAR naval exercise, with India the third participating country.

The meeting comes just weeks before the BRICS summit in Durban and is further evidence of strengthening South/South co-operation and South Africa’s entry to the group, Dlamini said.

Parallel to the military discussions, a defence industry work group met to explore co-operation for technology development in the areas of electronic warfare, radar, radios and missiles.

South Africa and Brazil are jointly developing the A-Darter 5th generation infra-red guided short range air-to-air missile. The joint R1 billion missile programme is in its fifth year of development, and is on track for production to commence in 2014.

Denel Dynamics CEO, Jan Wessels earlier this year said that, “I believe the DoD will contribute to the funding of a follow-up development missile programme, but its exact nature and funding model are still under discussion.” The follow-up missile is expected to be a radar-guided variant.

The initial fighter aircraft for A-Darter integration are the Hawk and Gripen for the South African Air Force, and the Northrop F-5M for the Brazilian Air Force.

Several Brazilian companies are involved in the A-Darter programme, including Mectron, Avibrás and Opto Eletrônica. Mectron makes all Brazil’s missiles (MAA-1/B Piranha air-to-air missile, MAR-1 anti-radar missile and MSS-1.2 anti-armour missile). Avibras is assisting with development of the A-Darter’s rocket motor and Opto Eletrônica is participating in the development of the A-Darter’s seeker head. In South Africa, A-Darter development is handled by Denel Dynamics.