* Weapons to be deployed for Confederations Cup soccer
* Brazil modernizing its armed forces
BRASILIA, April 11 Brazil plans to buy 34 used
anti-aircraft tanks from the German army to help bolster air
defenses as it prepares to hold two global sporting events and
host a visit by Pope Francis.
The Brazilian army said the contract to buy the
self-propelled Gepard 1A2 anti-aircraft guns would be signed in
the next few days and included ordnance, maintenance and
training. The value is still being negotiated, an army statement
said, adding the first lot would arrive by June.
The Flakpanzer Gepard, as it is known, is armed with two 35
mm guns mounted on a rotating turret atop a Leopard 1 tank
chassis. It was phased out three years ago by the German army
and replaced with missile systems.
Brazil has spent little on defense since civilian rule
replaced military dictatorship almost 20 years ago. The emerging
South American economic power is now seeking to modernize its
armed forces to defend its new offshore oil resources, protect
is porous Amazon and western border from drug traffickers and
take on international peacekeeping missions.
It is also trying to beef up internal security and
anti-terrorism capabilities before hosting the World Cup soccer
tournament next year and the 2016 Olympic Games.
In two months, the South American country will host the
Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal for the 32-nation world
soccer tournament a year later.
The Brazilian army officer in command of anti-aircraft
artillery, General Marcio Heise, told Globo's G1 news service
that the first eight Gepards would arrive in June.
He said they would be deployed in the Brazilian capital,
Brasilia, where the Confederations Cup kicks off on June 15, and
in Rio de Janeiro, where the tournament ends on June 30, and
also for the papal visit to Rio in July.
Brazil agreed in February to purchase Russian medium-range
surface-to-air Pantsir S1 combined missile and artillery
batteries and Igla-S shoulder-held missiles.
The Brazilian air force plans to replace its fleet of aging
fighter planes, but has delayed a decision on the purchase of 36
new jets, a coveted defense contract worth $4 billion initially.
Boeing Co, France's Dassault Aviation SA and
Sweden's Saab are in the running for the deal.
The rearmament plan is also aimed at helping boost local
defense and technology industries. Brazil is building five
submarines in partnership with France in a $3.95 billion program
that includes a nuclear-powered submarine. The reactor is a
Local aircraft maker Embraer SA is developing the
KC-390 military transport for Brazil's armed forces and to
compete against the Lockheed-Martin C-130 Hercules transport.
Embraer recently won a contract to supply the U.S. Air Force
with ground attack Super-Tucano aircraft, which will be provided
to the Afghan armed forces.