Mar 11, 2014 ASDNews (AFP)
Brazil is planning to build its first aircraft carrier to replace its aging only model as part of a steady upgrade to its armed forces, Defense Minister Celso Amorim said Tuesday.
In recent years Brazil has purchased submarines, helicopters and supersonic aircraft via technology transfer agreements with the proviso that the hardware is made in Brazil.
"We are starting to think about a new aircraft carrier," Amorim told foreign correspondents in Brasilia, adding it was likely the new vessel was at least 15 years away.
"Our idea is for it to be built in Brazil, probably based on an existing blueprint... in the context of a technology transfer" in cooperation with a foreign firm, Amorim added.
Brazil commissioned its only current aircraft carrier, the Clemenceau class State of Sao Paulo, in 2000, though the French initially launched the vessel back in 1960.
In December, Brasilia agreed to purchase 36 Gripen NG fighter jets from Swedish firm Saab with Amorim stressing the Swedish-Brazilian nature of that project through a "real technology transfer."
Amorim said he would visit Sweden in early April to "discuss the details" of that contract, valued at a reported $4.5 billion, and also to determine if the Swedes can lend some Gripen until those from the deal are delivered from 2018.
The Swedes saw off competition from US giant Boeing and Dassault of France in order to land the deal and defense sources say Brazil may ultimately order as many as 160 Gripen NG by 2030.