July 27, 2015 - 11:55 ( Brasília )

Land

Brazilian Army Modernizes its Armored Vehicle Fleet with Guarani Project


Versão em português

Santiago Wills

Brazil’s Army is expanding its fleet of vehicles as part of Project Guarani, a key initiative that aims to modernize them for the Cavalry and Mechanized Infantry Divisions.

“Project Guarani is the primary initiative of the Brazilian Army,” Colonel José Henrique de Cássio Ruffo said during a presentation at the 4th annual Latin America Armored Vehicles conference in Bogotá, Colombia, on July 1. “We will be finishing it 20 years from now.”

The Military launched the project after determining it needed to modernize its fleet of armored vehicles -- an analysis that began in 1999 with the investigation of basic operational requirements to replace Brazil’s 30-year-old fleet of Urutu and Cascavel armored vehicles.

Extensive testing

Through Project Guarani, the Army will build at least seven types of armored vehicles, including several variants of 6x6, 4x4 and 8x8 vehicles, according to Colonel Henrique Ruffo, the initiative's Project Manager.

That decision follows the testing of over 300 operational and technical requirements in Italy, Germany and Brazil; at the request of the Armed Forces, manufacturers in those countries evaluated the vehicles for their amphibious capabilities, maneuverability in different kinds of terrain, mileage capabilities (kilometers per gallon) and fire hazard systems. The Brazilian Military also deployed the Guarani in Rio’s favelas for pacification purposes; in Mato Grosso do Sul for border protection; and in Paraná, where the 15th Motorized Infantry Battalion uses them for peacekeeping missions and to fight organized crime.

“With the Guarani, the mechanized infantry can maneuver faster and with more depth,” Colonel Ruffo said. “They can combat with a high degree of security, and with firepower that can respond to all threats.”

Production begins

After the tests, the Brazilian government in December 2009 signed a $3.4 billion, 20-year deal with Iveco to develop and produce 2,044 VBTP-MRs (Armored Personnel Transport Vehicle – Guarani Midsize Vehicle Class) in Brazil. More than 100 Brazilian suppliers have been directly involved in the effort.

Since then, Iveco has begun delivery of the vehicles: 86 VBTP-MRs 6x6 Guarani armored vehicles in December 2012, and an additional 102 6x6 vehicles as of June 2015. Each is designed to transport 11 passengers using a Brazilian-made 383- horsepower Iveco Diesel Engine with six-speed automatic transmission and independent hydro pneumatic suspension in each wheel. The VBTP-MR has a modular design capable of utilizing a variety of weapons systems, ranging from manual and automated turrets for close protection to the REMAX (Reparo de Metralhadora automatizada X) remote weapon system, a flexible component that can be adapted for 7.62x51mm NATO cartridges, .50 Browning machine gun cartridges or grenade launchers.

By the end of 2015, the Brazilian Army will choose a developer for the 4x4 VBMT-LR (Armored Multitask Vehicle – Light Vehicle Class), which, just like the 6x6, will be built and produced in Brazil. The Military will order at least 186 vehicles of this kind, Major Cardoso Brites said. A similar plan for about 13 Guarani 8x8s is also in the works. The 4x4 and 8x8 Guarani armored vehicles are designed to complement and expand the Army’s operational capacities.

For that purpose, Brazil is seeking and developing various kinds of weapon systems, including anti-tank laser-guided missiles for the 4x4, and 105mm self-propelled howitzers for the destruction of high-value targets for the 8x8. The Army is also preparing ambulance, command post, fire direction, mortar carrier and repair and recovery variants for the Guarani family.