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Brazilian Air Force, Embraer to work on advanced UAS development

Photo: Embraer

The Brazilian Air Force has entered into an agreement with aircraft manufacturer Embraer for the conceptual design and development of an advanced unmanned aerial system (UAS) to meet the air force’s needs.

“This is a unique opportunity for the Brazilian Air Force to deepen its studies in disruptive technologies that may cause an imbalance in current and future scenarios,” Brazilian Air Force Commander Lieutenant-Brigadier Carlos de Almeida Baptista Junior said.

“In modern war, it is essential to use unmanned aerial platforms, operating alone or in conjunction with conventional aircraft. Such technology makes it possible to reduce costs and risks, without losing effectiveness in fulfilling the missions assigned to the Brazilian Air Force.”

Neither the air force nor Embraer provided details on the expected capabilities of the UAS, or the desired weight class. A graphic shared by Embraer, which the company noted was for illustration purposes only, appeared to show an unmanned system similar in size to Boeing’s MQ-25 or “loyal wingman” unmanned aerial systems.

The company said the project would allow the air force to evaluate the necessary capabilities for its missions, as well as the understanding and prioritization of operational and logistical elements related to the development of a “superior class unmanned aircraft system of multiple capacities.”

“This study is of fundamental importance for the maintenance and expansion of Embraer’s competencies in the development of aerial defense systems with high technological content and great integration complexity,” said Jackson Schneider, president and CEO, Embraer Defense & Security. “A major challenge for this aerial system will certainly be its integration and joint operation with other systems and aircraft, manned or unmanned.”

This will be the second unmanned aerial system project Embraer is undertaking in Brazil, after the first one was cut off due to a lack of funding. Embraer established a joint venture with AEL Sistemas and Avibras in 2011 with the aim of developing Brazil’s largest UAS under the Falcão project. The partners in the Harpia Sistemas joint venture announced in December 2015 they would disband the JV citing budget constraints in Brazil.