Agreements between Brazil and the United States Strengthen Defense-Related Cooperation

After a series of agreements on product and information exchange, the two countries set their sights on developing a binational project.
Andréa Barretto/Diálogo | 10 May 2017

The KC-390 aircraft is an example of a defense product developed in Brazil that integrates technology from U.S. manufacturer Rockwell Collins. (Photo: Sergeant Bruno Batista, FAB)

During LAAD 2017 Defence & Security International Exhibition on April 4th, an agreement was announced between the Brazilian firm, Embraer Defense and Security, and Rockwell Collins, its American counterpart. Operating in the aerospace sector, the companies foresee a mutual incorporation of products between their portfolios.

“There will be products that could potentially be produced by Rockwell Collins, which we will integrate with our solutions, and Bradar and Savis products that might be produced using Rockwell Collins solutions,” stated Jackson Schneider, the president of Embraer and director of its subsidiaries, Bradar and Savis.

The exchange between the two firms has been going on for nearly 50 years, “but now we’re taking the next step in this partnership,” Schneider said, citing the KC-390 aircraft, one of the Brazilian Air Force’s most recent acquisitions. Manufactured by Embraer, the plane uses an avionic system created by Rockwell Collins.

The announcement took place in Rio de Janeiro in the presence of Colin Mahoney, Vice President of Rockwell Collins; Peter Michael McKinley, U.S. Ambassador in Brazil; and Flávio Augusto Basílio, Secretary of Defense Products for Brazil’s Ministry of Defense.

“This agreement is a symbol of the importance of the relationship between the United States and Brazil in terms of defense. The two countries have been partners for some time now, and we are actively working to expand and strengthen that relationship,” said Ambassador McKinley.

The day before signing the agreement, government representatives from both countries had convened at the II Defense Industry Dialogue, with the goal of furthering a series of conversations about cooperation in the production of defense material. “Brazil decided that the United States should be a strategic partner. We’ve been discussing the possibility of developing a binational project,” said Basílio, adding that the “agreement between Bradar and Savis and Rockwell Collins is a concrete example of this plan.”

According to him, “the most important thing is that it isn’t asymmetrical collaboration. These are two large companies, and in this case, Brazil and the United States both win. This is going to open up the possibility of jointly developing products and exploring other markets”.

A milestone in the relationship

Signing of the letter of intent establishing the frequency of meetings between the two countries’ defense industries, completed in September 2016 in the presence of Ken Hyatt, U.S. Under Secretary for International Trade (2nd from left); and Flávio Augusto Basílio, Secretary of Defense Products for the Ministry of Brazil (3rd from left). (Photo: Tereza Sobreira, Brazilian Ministry of Defense)

This has been a notable year in the relationship between the Brazilian and U.S. defense sectors. After 10 years of exchanging ideas, Brazil’s Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Department of Defense signed the Master Information Exchange Agreement (MIEA), on March 22nd.

The document calls for bilateral cooperation to develop defense-related technology projects. “Our level of dialogue with the United States is now moving to the next level. Without this agreement, we wouldn’t be able to collaborate on defense, science, and technology,” said Basílio.

One benefit of the agreement is making possible the importation of U.S. products in support of Brazilian Armed Forces’ strategic projects. It also includes a discussion of mutual certification, which will enable products certified by Brazilian laboratories to be recognized by U.S. laboratories, in order to be integrated into the market without requiring two certification processes. “That type of agreement enables a more fluid relationship and generates benefits for both economies,” Basílio pointed out.

History of dialogue

The recently signed MIEA implements two documents previously negotiated by Brazil and the United States: the Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA), and the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). Both were enacted in June 2015, after spending five years in the Brazilian National Congress awaiting analysis by the deputies and senators.

DCA focuses on strength and cooperation between Brazil and the United States in defense, with particular attention paid to technology, systems and equipment, procurement, exchanging information and experiences, and joint exercises and training. GSOMIA is responsible for creating legal grounds that favor exchange initiatives in the fields of science, technology, communications, and logistics. Given the secrecy and protection of military information, this agreement’s goal is to promote commercial and industrial contracts.

The next steps

Talks between the two countries continue. “We are discussing another two agreements, one related to an exchange of engineers so that Brazilian professionals can go to the U.S. and those from the United States can come here, and another in the field of research, development, and technology,” Basílio said. “When that third agreement is finalized, we will be able to achieve our goal, which is developing a binational product.”

The Brazilian Ministry of Defense has scheduled a meeting with the U.S. Department of Defense for October, in Washington, D.C.

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