Monday, September 12, 2011

Brazil Launches $680M Rocket Launcher Program

The Federal Government gave a clear signal yesterday that it intends to pursue the consolidation of a defense industrial base in the country. A decree signed by President of the Republic Dilma Rousseff released additional credit of R $ 45 million to launch the Astros Project 2020, aimed to equip the Brazilian Army.

The project, which has total value of 1.09 billion reals, provides for the acquisition of the most advanced surface-to-surface missile launch system developed in-country. The Astros 2020 is an evolved version of the Astros II, the best-selling product manufactured by Avibras Aerospace. Exported to many countries, the Astros system is considered a market-leader among the small, select and highly competitive group of manufacturers of such systems.

Altogether, the project includes the acquisition of 49 vehicles for the Army, divided into three batteries: 18 launch vehicles, 18 ammunition resupply vehicles, three fire control units, three weather stations, three recovery vehicles and three armored command and control vehicles for each battery and another, final vehicle for integrated command and control.

The main advantage of the new concept is the incorporation of the AV-TM, a high-precision cruise missile with a range of 300 km. Unlike the rockets - which have a ballistic trajectory, defined from the impulse they receive at launch – this missile is guided and its trajectory can be controlled. Another important advance is in the system’s electronics, which is now entirely digital.

In addition to signaling a willingness to carry forward the armed forces modernization process, the acquisition of the Astros 2020 is seen as a major financial recovery point for Avibras. The company applied in July 2008 for protection under the bankruptcy regime. Later, it agreed a financial restructuring with the Federal Government, which involves the refinancing of debt. The purchase of the launcher rocket system is another step towards the improvement of economic and financial company.

The recovery of Avibras has a strategic dimension for the Brazilian defense industry. Besides the ability to export their products, the company will develop skilled labor. The maintenance of intellectual capital signals interest in the production of defense material with exclusively Brazilian technology.

Finally, the launch of the program is seen as a way to promote future exports and to improve Brazil’s trade balance, as export customers require that the system is adopted by at least one of the armed forces of Brazil.

The total investment in the Project Astros 2010 will be carried out over six years, from 2011 to 2016.

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