Posts Tagged Brazil
Brazil has bought four Hermes 450 drones for surveillance over stadiums of the FIFA World Cup football matches to commence in June, 2014. Intended to prevent terrorism during the games, no good case has been made that the Brazilian games will be targets of terrorism. Or that the drones will be useful in preventing it. Rather, the drones are more likely to be used monitoring protests that are sparked by the matches and Brazilian government policies, and building a ‘security state’. People attending the matches can expect pervasive surveillance, from drones overhead to facial recognition cameras on the ground.
As well, there may be a need to protect football fans and nearby residents from the drones themselves. Hermes 450 drones do not appear to have received widely accepted certification to fly in civilian air space,** although the Israeli government has certified them in Israel. Last year, during the Confederations Cup matches, Brazilian officials appear to have acknowledged this failing by planning to restrict civilian air traffic near the game venues.
British-Israeli Watchkeeper drones (which are based on the Hermes 450) have been recently certified by the UK to fly in civilian airspace but the technology that permitted this to occur does not appear to have been incorporated into the Hermes 450 drones sold to Brazil. There has been an effort worldwide to make drones safe to fly in populated airspace, including large European government subsidies documented by Statewatch and the Transnational Institute.
Drones in general have a much higher crash rate than piloted aircraft, and several Hermes 450 drones crashes have been recorded from a relatively small worldwide fleet.
Hermes 450 drones have been widely used by Israel for surveillance and assassinations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. So often used that Elbit Systems advertises their products as ‘conflict tested’.
Elbit Systems has a strong marketing programme in South America and has sold drones to several countries.
Brazil appears to have paid $25 million for the four drones.
**If anyone knows differently, please let me know.
Brazilian activists and politicians are furious that the Brazilian government has spent $350 million on acquiring 14 Heron drones($25 million each) from IAI , the Israeli government owned arms companies. The drones will be distributed among several Brazilian police agencies. Rio state police are also said to be considering the purchase of Skylark drones.
While the activists are primarily angry that the Brazilian government is dealing with an Israeli company while Israel is violating the rights of Palestinians, the activists might well direct attention to the cost of the drones, which seems very high. At $25 million each the Heron drones are costing as much or more than the British Watchkeeper drone, which is alleged to have loads of add ons and improvements over the basic Hermes 450 drone, a counterpart to the Heron.
The drones purchase is just part of a flirtation of the Brazilian government with Israeli drone companies. Brazil has also welcomed Elbit Systems, one of Israel’s largest arms companies, through its subsidiary AEL Sistemas, which has expanded quickly in Brazilian aviation.
Drone development joint venture
In April 2011 AEL Sistemas and Embraer signed an agreement to work together on drone development. The joint venture will be known as Harpia Sistemas. Embraer purchased 25% of the shares of AEL, ‘in order to transfer technology to Brazil’. Embraer will hold 51% of the capital of Harpia, AEL will hold 49%. The aim of the joint venture is to develop and sell both military and civilian drones ‘dual use’, first in Brazil and then to other regional customers.
The project is in line with Elbit CEO Joseph Ackerman’s strategic plan to expand Elbit internationally by means of joint ventures with local companies. The joint venture certainly gives the Israeli company a leg up in competing with other countries for drones sales, and helps to bypass any reticence of the Brazilian government about dealing with an Israeli company involved in the repression of Palestinians.
Mercopress has noted that Brazilian police have acquired two Hermes 450 drones from Israel for surveillance in the Amazon basin.
Brazilian joint ventures with the Israeli drone makers may be in direct competition with local drone developers, like AGX Technologia. AGX Technologia makes small drones already widely used by Brazilian enforcement officials, and a small fraction the cost of Israeli medium altitude, long endurance drones, like the Heron. AGX drones are the Arara (parrot) and the Tiriba (little parrot). Several are already in use by environmental enforcement organisations, with fifteen officers trained to use them.
Elbit Systems also announced another big, non-drone sale to the Brazilian military:
Elbit sells infrared countermeasures
Elbit Systems’ Brazilian subsidiary AEL Sistemas has sold a suite of electronics to the Brazilian military for its Embraer KC 39o aircraft. The Embraer 390 is a twin engined jet aimed at moving people and materials. The Embraer 390 is intended for us of the Brazilian military, but may be sold to France, Chile, Argentina, and the Czech Republic as well.
The sale includes ‘self protection systems’ and infrared countermeasures equipment, presumably similar to the ‘MUSIC’ and ‘C-MUSIC’ systems sold for use in Israeli aircraft. Also sold was the pilot’s ‘Heads Up Display’. The contract is for $25 million.
AEL Sistemas has a long history of working with Embraer, selling them avionics for several earlier Embraer plane models.
Brazil has reportedly decided to buy two Hermes 450 drones and a ground station from Porto Alegre-based Aeroeletronica. Aeroelectronica is the Brazilian subsidiary of Elbit Systems of Israel.
Israeli arms companies have widely adopted the strategy of local subsidiaries or joint ventures with local companies, to get around import export problems that many countries have from dealing with the Israel, and to make it easier to get government contracts. As an arms trader a large portion of Elbit’s sales are to governments.
In 2009 Haaretz reported that Elbit anticipated future Brazilian government purchases of drones to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Elbit also hopes to bid on contracts for many other projects, including its El-Op camera technology, and traffic management technology.
Defense News reports that Elbit also hope to sell the Brazilians security technology, developed from Israel’s ‘border security and counter-terrorism’ experience. (In other words, Israel hopes to profit from its experience maintaining the occupation of the West Bank and Palestine).
Jeff Halpern in this excellent YouTube video makes the point that Israel is specialising in exporting the technology of the security state.
Israel has demonstrated the capacity to pacify the Palestinian people, using technology and systematic repression, to the extent that Palestinians are barely able to resist as their land is taken away from them. This is a marketable technology which is being sold around the world.
From surveillance equipment to drones, from security consulting to prison management, Israeli companies are expanding sales widely in this area. Many of the entrepreneurs are former IDF or Mossad managers who have close links with the Israeli government.
Some examples: Elbit Systems is a joint contractor on the wall being built along the US boundary with Mexico. Elbit and other drones companies promote their drones based on their capacity to be used to deal with domestic disturbance.
As soon as Brasil had won the right to hold the 2016 Winter Olympics, the Prime Minister of Israel visited Brasil to promote the sale of Israeli security equipment.
Israel has special exchange programmes with police forces around the world. Not only do the visits to Israel help to sell Israel’s position with respect to the Palestinians, but the visits are marketing opportunities for Israel’s security exports.
Israeli police are also invited to the US and elsewhere to train police in Israeli techniques.
Elbit’s Brazilian arm is Aeroelectronica Industria de Componentes Avionicos SA. , or AEL. It’s main contract is the modernisation of Brazil’s F-5 aircraft, and electronics for Brazil’s new AL-X aircraft. Additional info. It is a relatively small company, but Elbit CEO Yossi Ackerman claims to be involved with projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the military (including drones) and space industries in Brazil.
Elbit has made most of it’s money in Brazil in a joint venture with Brazilian Embraer, upgrading the F-5’s and providing electronics for the AL-X.
Elbit now claims to be in a good place to win contracts to build drones for the Brazilian military, given that it has local manufacturing facilities, and has been transferring Israeli drone technology to workers in its company in Brazil.
Elbit has also won a contract to provide the Brazilian military with ‘unmanned turrets’ for military vehicles, designed to by used in ‘asymetric warfare’. In other words terrorism, guerrilla warfare, or civil disobedience. Given that warfare isn’t a high risk in Brazil, the turrets would likely be used to quell civil disobedience or riots. In the Brazilian situation, I believe that ‘asymetric warfare’ is a code word for ‘riots’. Elbit already supplies the turret to the Belgians.
These unmanned turrets appear to be remotely controlled turrets capable of firing cannons, machine guns, grenade launchers (presumably smoke or tear gas), and with sophisticated electronics for seeing and following targets.
Elbit Systems recently won a battle in Brazil to prevent the Brazilian company BRAIS from representing Israeli defense exporters in Brazil, fearing that BRAIS’s relations with competitor IAI would favour that company. Source.
Elbit’s Brazilian arm is Aeroelectronica Industria de Componentes Avionicos SA. , or AEL. It’s main contract is the modernisation of Brazil’s F-5 aircraft, and electronics for Brazil’s new AL-X aircraft. It is a relatively small company, but Elbit CEO Yossi Ackerman claims to be involved with projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the military (including drones) and space industries in Brazil.
In November Shimon Peres and a delegation of Israelis visited Brazil on a business promotion tour. On March 15, 2010, Brazilian president Lula Da Silva and many Brazilian business people started a visit to Israel.
There appears to be a major thrust to build business links between Israel and Brazil.
Lula criticised Israeli policy on the West Bank and Gaza and a report of his visit can be seen here.