LAAD11: Brazil defines new surveillance needs worth up to $11 billion

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Brazil's military has outlined requirements, valued at up to $11 billion, to establish two vast new surveillance networks with coverage ranging from the remote and lawless north-west border to the oil fields discovered hundreds of kilometres off the country's eastern coastline.

Both programmes would create surveillance networks for the army and navy on a par with the system used to cover the Amazon (SIVAM) initially deployed by the air force nine years ago.

Military officials are seeking to launch the programmes ahead of an expected surge of government spending on security to support the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. Luis Carlos Aguiar, chief executive of Embraer's Defense and Security business, estimates the army network - dubbed the System for the Surveillance of the Frontier (SISFRON) - will cost $6-7 billion, and a request for proposals will be issued later this year, with the contract award in 2012.

The navy's network - the system for the surveillance of the Blue Amazon (SISGAAZ) - could cost up to $4 billion, Aguiar says. But the timing for the request for proposals release is not clear. "It will take some time," Aguiar says.

Both networks would establish multiple layers of surveillance coverage against Brazil's principal security threats - smugglers, pirates and criminal gangs - with existing assets supported by new satellites and unmanned aircraft systems.

The existence of SISFRON and SISGAAZ help explain several recent strategic moves by Embraer, including the December launch of its standalone Defence and Security business led by Aguiar.

Embraer also has made two key acquisitions of local companies, including a majority stake in unmanned air vehicle-maker and sensor developer OrbiSat in March.

At the Latin America Aerospace and Defence conference, Embraer also announced acquiring 50% of the shares of Atech, a local company which defined and developed the command and control systems for SIVAM in 1997 while it was part of a government agency.

Atech was spun off into a private company in late 2009, but has been involved in defining the requirements for SISFRON, Aguiar says.

Embraer has moved quickly to reposition itself as a systems integrator in the defence market, where it was previously content to supply aircraft and system upgrades.

Foreign companies are also seeking to move into the same market in Brazil. Israel Aerospace Industries has launched a partnership with local company Synergy, seeking to provide system integration services combining the Israeli firms products spanning from satellites, UAVs and manned aircraft.

Meanwhile, Saab also has advertised its interest to become an integrator for SISGAAZ, tying together either the company's mix of surveillance sensors and platforms or technologies by other firms.