Rio 2016: Brazil Looks to Russia for Air Defense Systems
Brazil needs to upgrade its ground-based air defenses, and has chosen Russian equipment to do so. Protecting the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is very much on Brazil’s mind, and so is improving anti-aircraft defenses beyond the current stock of SA-18 Igla shoulder-fired missiles and Gepard mobile anti-aircraft guns. What they’re buying won’t give them anything close to a comprehensive IADS system, but it will upgrade their mobile and short-range options.
Brazil has good, established relations with competing providers, including Britain (Starstreak VSHORAD and Rapier, which protected the 2012 Olympics), France (Mistral VSHORAD and VL-MICA mobile), and Israel (Spyder). Nevertheless, they chose a pair of Russian products.
The SA-24 Igla-S is an upgraded version of the SA-18, with a proximity fuze and other enhancements. It can be carried and fired by troops in the field, or mounted on vehicles or helicopters using Strelets 4-missile launchers. Note that Brazil’s new Mi-35M/ AH-2 Sabre attack helicopters aren’t an integrated platform.
The SA-22 Pantsir S1 is designed for mobile low-level air defense, and can be mounted on trucks, wheeled armored vehicles, and tracked vehicles. It combines twin 30mm guns with 12 57E6 radar-guided surface-to-air missiles that reach out to 12 km/ 10 miles, and up to 10,000m altitude. Sensors include targeting and tracking radars, with an electro-optical system for passive scanning.
It’s more of a low-level air defense system than a remedy against enemies who can use precision bombing from altitude, and its use of radio command guidance (RCG) means that its attacks can be defeated with jamming, or by killing the launcher. Nevertheless, it has been exported to Algeria and the UAE, and ordered by Iraq. There are reports that Jordan and Syria are also customers, and that some of the Syrian systems found their way to Iran.
They’ll be integrated into a system that includes Russian SA-18 missiles, ex-German army Gepard 1A2 self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, and Brazil’s own CTEx M-60 SABER radars with a range of up to 60 km.
Contracts & Key Events
Oct 17/13: Brazil’s MdD announces that they’re sending a technical committee to Russia to negotiate the final terms of a $1 billion contract for Igla (presumably SA-24 Igla-S) and SA-22 Pantsir S1 mobile air defense systems. The goal is to place a contract by mid-2014, which is too late for the soccer World Cup, but Brazil expects delivery within 18 months so they can be used at the 2016 summer Olympics. Sources: Brazil MdD, “Brasil e Russia decidem ampliar cooperacao em defesa” | Defesanet, “Russos tentam, em vao, voltar a briga dos cacas”