Brazil’s two largest UAS developers unite

Washington DC
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Brazilian aerospace supplier Avibras has teamed up with the Harpia Systems joint venture by Embraer and Elbit Systems on unmanned air systems (UAS), allowing all three companies to take advantage of new tax incentives.

By adding Avibras, which is developing the Falcão UAS, to the Harpia ownership structure with a 9% stake, the joint venture can apply for special tax breaks made available to defence contractors owned at least 60% by interests in Brazil.

Harpia's ownership structure also includes a 51% stake by Embraer and a 40% stake by AEL Systems, a Brazil-based subsidiary of Israel's Elbit Systems.

Embraer formed the Harpia joint venture two years ago to adapt the Hermes 450 UAS for Brazilian requirements, which includes adding a satellite data link for beyond line of sight range.

Avibras, meanwhile, has been developing the similarly-sized Falcão UAS for rapidly emerging requirements for border surveillance in Brazil.

Last year, Embraer was awarded the system for the surveillance of the frontiers (SISFRON) contract by the Brazilian army, with a value up to $4 billion. In Phase 1, Embraer is charged with establishing a network of ground-based radars along the country's remote southwestern borders. A UAS capability is planned to be added to the SISFRON programme in Phase 2, beginning next year.

While the Avibras move is aimed at Brazil's UAS requirement, the Harpia joint venture is also clearly aimed at attracting foreign sales.

The augmented Harpia "will result in a highly competitive UAS solution in Brazil and abroad", sais Sami Hassuani, president of Avibras.