Brazil is seeing an economic windfall from military exports to Africa, as American export restrictions to often war-torn regions have given an opening for other industrialized nations to cash in.
Brazilian manufacturer Embraer recently inked $180 million in orders for its Super Tucano for counterinsurgency, ground attack, and border operations in Angola, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, according to UPI.
The government has openly embraced these types of deals, which have allowed Embraer to gain openings in emerging markets. Recent US policy has strongly restricted the trade of American-made military equipment.
But the Super Tucano has much more going for it than government relations. The Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano, (called A-29 by the Brazilian Air Force) is a turboprop attack plane that looks more like a World War II heavy fighter than a 21st century air force piece. But the brand new aircraft, which was introduced in 2003, has proven perfect for second and third world militaries that are often dealing with less-than-technologically-sophisticated conflicts.
Brazil already operates about 11 Super Tucanos, and the air forces of Colombia, Equador, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Indonesia also have the plane in use.
The Super Tucano is heavily-armed for a light attacker, able to carry a variety of air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, rockets, bombs, laser-guided munitions, and up to three guns. Looks are where the WWII-looking nostalgia ends. The plane also has advanced radar, FLIR, night vision, a glass cockpit, and an encrypted data link.
It’s also cheap to buy and cheap to fly. The plane only costs $9-14 million to purchase and only about $500/hour to fly in upkeep and operational costs.
“The Super Tucano is highly efficient and presents low operating costs,” Embraer Defense and Security President Luiz Carlos Aguiar told UPI. “Its capability for surveillance and counter-insurgency missions makes it ideal for service on the continent of Africa.”
Burkina Faso received three aircraft already. Six are on order for Angola, with three arriving by year’s end.
The military hardware export move is part of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s ambitious plan to challenge major international corporations with its domestic industry, particularly when it comes to aviation.