26 September 2016
Economic struggles in Brazil have slowed but not stopped the country’s quest to add nuclear-powered submarines and an aircraft carrier to its naval capabilities, the head of the Brazilian navy said Sept. 26.
Achieving a nuclear submarine force is the navy’s top modernization priority and could become a reality in eight to 10 years, said Adm. Eduardo Bacellar Leal Ferreira. Design work has been conducted, and Brazil plans to develop and test a prototype before building operational submarines.
“The dream fleet would be six” submarines, said Ferreira, who spoke on a maritime security panel in Washington, D.C. “I don’t think we’re going to have a major fleet.”
Ferreira insisted that Brazil has no plans to use its nuclear propulsion expertise to develop nuclear weapons. The country has opened its nuclear propulsion work to international monitoring agencies to allow them to confirm there is no diversion, he said.
Meanwhile, Brazil, which acquired a used carrier from France, is working to renew the propulsion and catapult systems to get the ship up and running, Ferreira said. The Navy bought aging McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk carrier-capable attack aircraft for training and is having them updated by Embraer.
Embraer announced in May 2015 that it had delivered the first modernized A-4, now called the AF-1, to the Brazilian navy. The company indicated it plans to outfit a total of 12 A-4s with new computers, multimode radar, navigation, power, sensors, tactical communications and weapons.
Ferreira said Brazil needs the submarines and carrier to better protect its maritime interests, such as oil production and trade.