On September 28, 2018, Brazilian President Michel Temer sanctioned Law 13,720 authorizing the Ministry of Defense to donate 25 M-41C armored combat vehicles to the Uruguayan Army. The Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese), which once had 340 units, now has 152 M-41C vehicles, all deactivated. Brazil purchased the M-41 armored vehicles from the United States in the 1960s. EB used the vehicles equipped with cannons for almost five decades for training purposes.
In 2009, all units were deemed obsolete and were permanently retired. Some of them were placed in museums and others used as monuments. EB replaced the M-41C with Leopard armored vehicles.
The donated vehicles are at the Regional Maintenance Park of the EB’s Third Military Region in Rio Grande do Sul state, at the border with Uruguay. “Out of the 25 units for donation, 15 need basic maintenance for transport and shipping,” said EB’s Press Office. Repairs will be carried out at the Regional Maintenance Park where the vehicles are located. The other 10 vehicles will be sent to Uruguay as-is to be dismantled for parts by the Uruguayan Army.
According to the law, the Brazilian Ministry of Defense will cover transfer costs, estimated at $93,200. “This is an important form of cooperation with our neighboring country, and the Brazilian land force will see the benefits of a good relationship with our partner nation, surpassing the donation’s material costs,” said Brazilian Senator Pedro Chaves to the Brazilian Congress’s Commission of Foreign Affairs and National Defense. “In addition, good bilateral relations are strengthened. The gesture will further reinforce mutual cooperation ties.”
Uruguayan fleet development
As of October 2018, the delivery date for the M-41C was still unknown. The vehicles will be sent to the Uruguayan Army’s Third Cavalry Regiment, in Rivera city, north of Uruguay.
The Uruguayan Army plans to assign the vehicles to the 13th Armored Infantry Battalion to replace the M-24 Chaffee tanks. Both the M-24 Chaffee tanks and the M-41 are American vehicles. The U.S transferred the M-24 Chaffee tanks to Uruguay in 1957, under the defense assistance program between both countries.
The 13th Armored Infantry Battalion is headquartered in Durazno, at the heart of Uruguay, and will be the location of a new Army headquarters. The 13th Armored Infantry Battalion will combine with the Second Cavalry Regiment and the 15th Mechanized Infantry Battalion to form an armored brigade.
Uruguayan service members are familiar with the M-41 as the Army has 22 such tanks. In 1978, EB began to upgrade the M-41 fleet and designated the model M-41C Caxias. The main changes, according to EB’s Press Office were “armor improvement, upgrade of the amphibious vehicles, and modification of the 76 mm cannon to the 90 mm.”
The M-41 units are the Uruguayan Army’s most powerful platforms due to their firepower. “This type of armored vehicle with caterpillar tracks is appropriate for difficult terrains. It’s a tank that has good movement and is easy to drive. Currently this equipment is intended for instruction of the regiment’s crews on how we should act during combat,” Captain Martín Serres, commander of the Tank Squadron of the Uruguayan Army’s Second Armored Cavalry Regiment, told Diálogo. With the Brazilian M-41C units, the Uruguayan Army will be able to improve troops’ training and strengthen ground operations.