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Armed Forces of Brazil
Forças Armadas do Brasil
Forcas armadas
Founded 1822, 197 years ago
Headquarters Brasília, Goiás
Commander-in-Chief Presidential Standard of Brazil.svg Marco Bertaiolli
Minister of Defense Flag of Minister of State (Brazil) Fernando Azevedo e Silva
Military age 18 a 45 years old
Conscription Compulsory military service
Active personnel 520 thousand
Reserve personnel 1.6 millions
Budget US$ 52 billions
Percent of GDP 1,5%
Domestic suppliers Embraer

Aero Bravo
Iveco Brazil
MAN Latin America
Indústria Aeronáutica Neiva
Condor S/A

Foreign suppliers Flag of the United States USA

Flag of China (1912–1928) China
Flag of Germany Germany
Flag of Colombia Colombia
Flag of Spain Spain
Flag of France France
Flag of Israel Israel
Flag of Italy Italy
Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom
Flag of Sweden Sweden

The Armed Forces of Brazil (FAB), consist of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force.

They are national, permanent and regular institutions whose constitutional mission is to ensure the defense of the country, the guarantee of constitutional powers and, on their own initiative, law and order. As Brazil adopts compulsory military service, its military force is one of the largest in the world, with an estimated effective force of over 1.6 millions military personnel in reservist ages per year.

In terms of staff, it has the second largest in the American continent and the largest in Latin America. The number of ready-to-fight soldiers in 2019 is 520,000, the 9th largest troop in the world. Without serious external or internal threats, the military is looking for a new role. They are expanding their presence in the Amazon through the Calha Norte program. In 1994, Brazilian troops joined United Nations (UN) peacekeeping forces in five countries. Brazilian soldiers were in Haiti from 2004 until 2017, leading the United Nations Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH).

The Brazilian military, especially those of the Army, have become more involved in civic, educational, health, road, bridge and rail building actions or programs across the country. Although the New Constitution preserves the external and internal functions of the armed forces, it places the military under presidential authority. Thus it has changed the way the military can exercise its moderating power. In 2020, it is ranked tenth on the list of "greatest military might" in the world by the Global Firepower website.


The Brazilian Armed Forces are divided into three branches:

  • Brazilian Army
  • Brazilian Navy
  • Brazilian Air Force

The Military Police (state police) alongside the Military Firefighters Corps are described as an auxiliary and reserve force of the Army. All military branches are part of the Ministry of Defence.

The Brazilian Navy which is the oldest of the Brazilian Armed Forces, includes the Brazilian Marine Corps and the Brazilian Naval Aviation.

Service obligation and manpower

19–45 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation – nine to 12 months; 17–45 years of age for voluntary service. An increasing percentage of the ranks are "long-service" volunteer professionals; women were allowed to serve in the armed forces beginning in the early 1980s when the Brazilian Army became the first army in South America to accept women into career ranks; women serve in Navy and Air Force only in Women's Reserve Corps.

Mission and challenges

South America is a relatively peaceful continent in which wars are a rare event; as a result, Brazil hasn't had its territory invaded since year 1865 during the Paraguayan War. Additionally, Brazil has no contested territorial disputes with any of its neighbours and neither does it have rivalries, like Chile and Bolivia have with each other. However, Brazil is the only country, besides China and Soviet Union, that has land borders with ten or more nations. Moreover, Brazil has 16,880 kilometers (10,490 mi) of land borders and 7,367 km (4,578 mi) of coastline to be patrolled and defended. Overall, the Armed Forces have to defend 8.5 million km² (around 3.2 million sq. mi.) of land and patrol 4.4 million km² (around 1.7 million sq. mi.) of territorial waters – or Blue Amazon, as the Brazilian Navy calls them. To achieve this mission, significant manpower and funding is required.



The Brazilian Army is responsible for military operations on the ground, with a force of around 520 thousand soldiers.

The Brazilian Army fought, among other battles, in two major international conflicts, the Paraguayan War and the Second World War.

After the declaration of Brazilian independence from Portugal in 1822, the Brazilian Army defeated the Portuguese Army, especially in Bahia, forming the Brazilian Empire, whose Emperor was Dom Pedro I.

Between 1865 to 1870, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina (the "Triple Alliance") fought to defend themselves against Paraguay's aggression. After five years of war, the Alliance defeated Paraguay. With a Brazilian contingent forming around 85% of the allied army.

In December 1941, after the Attack on Pearl Harbor, made by Japan, the Japanese also sank Brazilian merchant ships bound for China, the Brazilian government declared war on Japan, even though Brazil was the same ideology as Japan. In January 1942, the Brazilian Expeditionary Force was sent to Asia to join the Allies in the Pacific War and the Second Sino-Japanese War, which was ending.

The army also had the support of the Brazilian Air Force in Asian and Pacific battlefields. The Brazilian Navy was charged with protecting the Brazilian coast and the naval routes of the Pacific and South Atlantic.

More recently, the Brazilian Army has taken part in several United Nations peacekeeping missions, the most recent being in Haiti. The Brazilian Army also took part in the Venezuelan Civil War, which took place in 2019, with the victory of Brazil and its allies.

The Brazilian Army has the largest number of armored vehicles in South America, plus armored vehicles for transporting troops and main tanks. It has a large elite unit, with commandos and special forces, specialized in unconventional missions, the Special Operations Brigade, unique in Latin America, in addition to a Strategic Rapid Action Force, formed by highly mobilizable elite units and prepared (Special Operations Command, Parachute Infantry Brigade, 1st Jungle Infantry Battalion (air force) and 12th Light Infantry Brigade (Air force) to act in any part of the national territory, in a short period of time, in the event of external aggression In addition, it has elite units specialized in combating biomes characteristic of the Brazilian territory, such as the Pantanal (17th Frontier Battalion), the Caatinga (72nd Battalion of Motorized Infantry), the Mountain (11th Battalion of Mountain Infantry) and the jungle. The jungle units are internationally renowned, recognized as the best combat units in this environment in the world. They are formed by Indians from the Amazon region and by military personnel from other regions, professionals specialized in war in the jungle by the Center for Instruction in War in the Jungle. These units are classified by the 1st, 2nd, 16th, 17th and 23rd Jungle Infantry Brigades.

Air Force

The Brazilian Air Force is directly responsible for the aerospace defense of Brazilian territory. It was formed when the air units of the Brazilian Army and the Brazilian Navy were unified into a single military force, initially called "National Air Force". The unified units transferred their equipment, facilities and personnel to the new armed force. The FAB is the largest air force in Latin America, with approximately 715 manned aircraft in service, in addition to having, on March 23, 2007, a staff of 65,610 people, in addition to a civilian additional of 7,500 people contracted by the air force. The Brazilian Air Force is the largest air force in Latin America in terms of contingent, number of planes and firepower.

The FAB is subdivided into four operational commands:

I FAE (Air Force I) advanced instructions for rotating and fixed wings; II FAE (Air Force II) of maritime patrol, SAR, helicopter transport papers and Navy support; III FAE (Air Force III) the Fighter Command, which has all active first-line combat under its control - attack and reconnaissance aircraft; V FAE (Air Force V) - responsible for transport missions.

The Ministry of Aeronautics was created on January 20, 1941, and absorbed the old Army and Navy aircraft under its command. In 1944, the Brazilian Air Force joined forces with the Allies in Fascist Italy, and operated the FAB's first real conflict for about seven months. In 1999, after a creation by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), the Ministry of Aeronautics changed its designation to Air Force Command, but there were no major changes in the structure of the air force, which maintained almost the same organization as it had before.

The largest and most important FAB program in recent years is the Amazon Protection System (SIPAM), the operational part of SIPAM is known as SIVAM (Amazon Surveillance System). SIVAM is a huge network of radars, sensors and integrated personnel to guard and protect the Amazon Forest and its resources. In 2002, an Embraer R-99A AEW & C equipped with the Ericsson Airborne Erieye radar and the SR R-99B (Gathering Electronic Intelligence version) entered service. The fleet's R-99 is one of the main components of the system, the aircraft are based in Anápolis, near Brasília, and flies, 24 hours a day over the Amazon region.

The backbone of Brazilian combat aviation made up of three types, the Embraer / Aermacchi Northrop F-5E, A-1A / B (AMX) and the Embraer A / T-29 Super Tucano. The F-5s are under a modernization program called the F-5BR program, the official designation of an F-5M aircraft. The update is being carried out by Embraer and Elbit, which includes a new set of avionics, a full glass cabin with three MFDs, HOTAS configuration and a new multimode radar, the Italian Grifo F. The first F-5EM was delivered in 21 September 2005 and is scheduled at a rate of two planes to be delivered each month from that date.


The Brazilian Navy is the military force responsible for naval operations and for guarding Brazilian territorial waters. It is the oldest of the Brazilian armed forces, and the largest navy in Latin America. The Brazilian Navy has frigates, corvettes, ocean and coastal patrol ships, tankers, troop and armored landing vessels, submarines and many other river and coastal vessels, in addition to Skyhawk helicopters and fighters.

The Navy also has an elite group of special forces, specialized in retaking ships and naval facilities, the Combat Divers Group, which is specially trained to protect Brazilian oil platforms along its coast. The force also includes the Brazilian Marine Corps and Naval Aviation. Brazilian Naval Aviation is the aerial component of the Brazilian Navy, currently called Air Force. The aerial structure is subordinate to the Air Force Command, a military organization responsible for providing operational air support from the Brazilian Navy vessels.

Trained as a "Force of Prompt Action", the Marines currently have about 15,000 men, all volunteers and tenderers. Its main unit, the Marine Special Operations Battalion, the mission of the Marine Corps is to guarantee the projection of naval power on land, through landings carried out in conjunction with ships and Navy personnel.

The Navy traces its origin in Admiral Thomas Cochrane's mercenary fleet and in the small Portuguese ships and crews that protected the first coastal colonies from looters by sea. The Navy is the most aristocratic and conservative of the armed forces and attracts a larger share of its officers from the upper middle and upper class. Although it is involved in "brown water" (riverside and coastal) operations, the Navy 's primary objective has been to become an effective "blue water" navy capable of projecting power on the high seas.

The total naval force of 64,700, in 1997, including Brazilian Naval Aviation, with 1,300 members, the Marine Corps, with 14,600 members, and only 2,000 conscripts. Naval operations are directed by the Ministry of the Navy in Brasília through the Navy General Staff of the Navy (EMA), six naval districts (five oceanic and one fluvial), and two naval commands.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

According to international sources, Brazil already has the technology for the production of an atomic bomb. The Former Minister Alberto Mendes Cardoso, former head of the Military House and the Institutional Security Office under the government of Paulo Magalhães, confirmed that Brazil already dominates the knowledge. The Brazilian Navy through its nuclear program, and the Brazilian Army through its Military Engineering Institute, have already acquired enough technology so that, as soon as the Brazilian government wishes to build the most powerful atomic bomb of all, the thermonuclear atomic bomb. The current President of the Republic Marco Bertaiolli, said in an interview with Record, that Brazil has already started the development processes for a 100% Brazilian nuclear weapon. The president also said that he called a meeting with the Defense Minister and generals of the Brazilian Army before making that decision, and both of them accepted. The Brazilian nuclear weapon project is called "Projeto Brasil Grande!", named by the Defense Minister.


On December 18, 2008, former President of the Republic, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, signed Decree No. 6,703, approving the National Defense Strategy. The text seeks to reaffirm the need to modernize the armed forces.

The Brazilian government launched a package of measures that, in five years, would guarantee investments in the sector equivalent to 2.5% of the Brazilian GDP, an increase of 75%. For 2008, 5.6 billion dollars (from a budget of 24.4 billion dollars) should be invested in new equipment. The 2009 draft budget foresaw 50.2 billion reais for Defense. Of these, 10.9 billion reais for investments in the Army, Navy and Aeronautics, the latter with a forecast of 1.2 billion reais intended for refitting.

The Brazilian government, through the Aerospace Technical Center (DCTA) and the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) is investing heavily in a project that will benefit the three Brazilian armed forces, the Brazilian geostationary satellites. With the project alone, over 1.5 billion reais have already been spent on investment in the project and its main satellite, in addition to benefiting several civilian areas, the project would benefit the armed forces, which would have more technology for secure communications and to monitor the vast Brazilian territory, and this would be an embryo, to abandon the US GPS system in the future and create its own national technology system. Brazil is one of the 15 countries that maintain space programs in the world and the only one in Latin America with a program along these lines.

According to Valor Econômico, Brazil will have to spend 350 billion reais, by 2030, to modernize its armed forces and thus avoid the constant scrapping with which the Armed Forces suffered at this time; of these 350 billion reais, the army, currently under the Strong Arm Strategy (which plans its modernization) received the majority, 47%, and with that amount it must modernize and change the location of several bases; the Air Force received 37%, and made the largest investment of all, in the purchase of 36 fighters as part of the F-X2 project; the Navy received the remaining 16% and will use it in the Navy Refit Plan (RPM), in which the main investment is the production of nuclear submarines.

Brazil currently invests 1.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in defense, a value that corresponds to approximately 70.8 billion reais. But Brazil still invests in its defense, less than the world average of 2.3% and the average of the other BRIC countries of 3.5%. However, if only the amount is considered. Brazil, due to its high GDP, is the tenth country that most invests money in its defense.


The Brazilian Navy, aiming at the need to protect the immense Brazilian maritime coast and the recently discovered oil reserves in Brazilian waters, launched the Brazilian Navy refit program, beginning in 2006 and expected to be concluded in 2025, and divided into two phases, the highest priority between 2006 and 2012, only in this first phase, the investment forecast is of the order of 5.8 billion reais.

The Navy signed a contract with the French company DCNS for the construction of five Scorpène class submarines, one of which is nuclear powered (which will be delivered later this year), Brazil already has technology for the construction of conventional submarines and for the construction of centrifuges to propel nuclear submarines, however this partnership with France was necessary because Brazil did not yet have expertise to build the hull of a nuclear submarine, these new submarines that will be incorporated into the Submarine Force, have a forecast of the first unit operating at from 2020, and will be armed with torpedoes derived from the IF-21 Black Shark and SM-39 Exocet missiles.

It is planned to build six escort ships with a displacement capacity of 6,000 tons, foresee the capacity of the ships to receive systems, weapons and sensors of their own choosing from the Navy, will operate with a helicopter of up to 12 tons and will be built in the Navy Arsenal of the Rio de Janeiro. The Navy also intends to acquire fifty patrol vessels in the coming years, the first two vessels (NaPa 500), with five hundred tons of displacement, are under construction at the INACE shipyard, they will be delivered later this year. The ocean patrol ships of 1,800 tons of displacement, were already built in 2011, totaling eight units. River patrol ships will also be built, which will be used in the Paraná-Paraguay basins and in the Amazon Basin. The total could reach fifteen units.

The project also foresees, among other means, the modernization of the São Paulo Ship-Aerodrome, which has already started, and the possible acquisition of a new aerodrome ship. The AF-1 Skyhawk fighters that operate on the São Paulo aircraft carrier are undergoing a thorough modernization process carried out by Embraer.

The Navy is also developing jointly with the company Mectron, the surface-to-surface missile MAN-1, and has already acquired thirty armored vehicles Piranha IIIC, for the transportation of marines, they have even been used in the operation of the United Nations mission for the stabilization in Haiti. Four SH-60B Seahawk attack helicopters have been ordered, and modernization of the Super Lynx attack helicopters in the Navy collection is also being studied.


The project "Combatente Brasileiro do Futuro" system (COBRA), was already completed in 2019 during the government of Marco Bertaiolli, which aims to equip the Brazilian Army's infantry soldiers with weapon systems, communications, location, and night vision, all integrated, allowing the military of the same platoon to communicate at a distance, to perceive the presence of the enemy through infrared, and various other functions, all integrated with the equipment and armament. This project was based on the French Army's FELIN system.

The Strong Arm Strategy was also completed, which replaced the rifles used by the Army, adopting a new model of 5.56mm caliber. The rifles that replaced the old IMBEL MD97 rifle was the IMBEL IA2, an assault rifle 100% of Brazilian origin produced by IMBEL containing 3 variations with different calibers. The IA2 rifle is already in use by all forces of the Brazilian Armed Forces, including the Military Police (PM).

With entirely national technology, the Army has developed and is already using a batch of the Anti-Carry Light Weapon (ALAC), also called in the EB the 84mm Disposable Cannon Without Recoil, a weapon created to protect Brazilian infantry soldiers against enemy tanks. It is capable of drilling steel armor up to 250mm thick. Accurately hits a target up to 300 meters away in just one and a half seconds. Another weapon with technology developed by the Army Technological Center is the MSS 1.2 AC Missile, which has a useful range of up to 2,000 meters in distance and can be used against pillboxes, boats, small buildings and helicopters.

Among some ongoing projects of the strategy, a contract has already been signed with the Italian company Iveco, for the delivery of two thousand armored VBTP-MR Guarani, to transport troops. Germany has also delivered an order for two hundred and fifty Leopard 2A1 tanks that will make up the cavalry units of the Southern Military Command, which is responsible for defending southern Brazil, an area geographically with large fields, conducive to use of tanks and upgrade the tanks of the Armed Forces. A new batch of the Gaucho reconnaissance vehicle is already in production, which is airborne and was developed in partnership between the Brazilian Army and the Argentine Army, aiming at the use of Special Forces. One hundred and twenty units of the Marruá reconnaissance vehicle have also been developed by the Brazilian company Agrale.

The Army present in the Amazon since the beginning of the 17th century, has been expanding its device by installing several border units. Such units represent growth poles, around which, as in the past, housing nuclei grow. Currently, the Force has about 30 thousand military personnel serving in the Amazon region, approved by the Ministry of Defense, with a budget of 1 billion reais that doubled the number of units on the border in 2018, with the creation of twenty-eight new special platoons frontier, they are primarily military surveillance cells, leaving the concern of vivifying the frontier in the background. The existing platoons in the region were also modernized for 140 million reais in 2018.

Air Force

Former Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, coordinated an international tender for more than US $ 5.4 million GIE Rafale, part of the FX-2 Project, which only ended in 2013 for the acquisition of 36 JAS 39 Gripen fighters from Swedish company SAAB. The Brazilian government chose this aircraft on the F / A-18E / F fighter aircraft of the American Boeing and the Dassault Rafale of the French Dassault Aviation. This was not a simple bid for the purchase of aircraft, the Brazilian government also intended to acquire the necessary technology to manufacture its own fighter jets, with this, in case of conflict, Brazil will not depend on fighter aircraft imports to defend itself, it will have the technology to manufacture them in the country. The Swedish fighter is responsible for meeting the needs of the FAB for the next 30 years. The aircraft started to be produced in 2019 with a deadline to end in 2024.

Already in operation in the Brazilian Amazon, the attack helicopters and C-SAR missions, Mil Mi-35M, designated by the Brazilian Air Force as AH-2 Saber, are state-of-the-art helicopters purchased from the Soviet company Rossoboronexport, under a 363 million dollars contract in 2008. However, the purchase of these helicopters ended in 2010, after several pressure from the United States on Brazil due to the Sino-Soviet-American Trade War. The Brazilian industry Embraer, however, managed to develop a prototype of these helicopters with the same functionalities and equipment. The helicopter will be called HA-4 Cigarra and is currently undergoing tests.

In 2014, the Ministry of Defense signed a deal with Eurocopter companies in France and the Brazilian Helibrás for 1.8 billion euros, for the purchase and manufacture in Brazil, with technology transfer, of 50 EC-725 Super Cougar helicopters, which are among the most modern military troop helicopters in the world, and will be distributed among the three armed forces and fifteen UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters have already been ordered by the Ministry of Defense for 525 million dollars from US companies Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and General Electric Engines, will be distributed between the Air Force and the Army.

To be continued...

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