Embraer has started work on modernising a second batch of Northrop F-5E fighters and F-model trainers for the Brazilian air force.
Three aircraft from a total of 11 are already being worked on at the company's facilities in Gavião Peixoto, Brazil, with deliveries expected to start later this year. Embraer says it completed the delivery of a first batch of 46 modified F-5EM/FMs in 2012.
Meanwhile, the company is also upgrading 43 Brazilian air force AMX light-attack aircraft under the A-1M programme. Sixteen are currently at Gavião Peixoto in various stages of modernisation.
Embraer says it will start delivering the enhanced AMX aircraft to the air force later in 2013. With the upgrade programme complete, the service life of the aircraft will be extended by 15 to 20 years, the company says, without detailing how many flight hours this equates to.
Both the modernised F-5M and AMX are being upgraded to a common avionics configuration. "What we are doing in Brazil is basically a commonality between the Super Tucano, F-5 and the AMX so that the pilots would not have many problems for transition," Embraer says. "You also reduce costs and assist in training."
The AMX and F-5 fleets are also receiving Elbit Systems-built radars, in addition to upgraded electronic warfare equipment, in-flight refuelling systems and other improvements.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian navy is also upgrading its small fleet of 12 Douglas A-4 Skyhawk carrier-based light strike aircraft. At least one of the Skyhawks is currently being modernised at Gavião Peixoto, but Embraer could not immediately offer any details.
Alongside the modernisation work for the Brazilian military, the factory at Gavião Peixoto is at work building a number of Super Tucanos for export customers Angola and Indonesia.
Brazil is ramping up spending on defence as it prepares to host the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games, in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
There is also a growing realisation in the country that it will have to work diligently in the future to protect its vast natural resources.