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Brazil Submarine Capabilities

Tupi Class Submarine, Marinha do Brasil

The Brazilian Navy currently operates a flotilla of four Tupi-class (modified German Type 209) submarines, which are based at Almirante Castro e Silva, Mocangue Island, near Rio de Janeiro. The first of class was constructed at Germany's Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), while the remainder were built at Arsenal de Marinha do Rio de Janeiro (AMRJ). AMRJ launched a fifth boat, the improved Tupi class Tikuna, on March 9, 2005. Brazil plans to begin constructing a new class of diesel submarines, intended as a further step in the eventual creation of a fleet of nuclear-powered attack boats, which will use a hull modified from the diesel boats. [1] According to Brazilian reports in late May 2004, a special budget of approximately $7.8 million was to be released immediately for the completion of the land-based nuclear reactor prototype RENAP-11 (Reactor Naval de Potência de 11 Megawatts), which was expected to become operational in 2005. [2] However, a report in 2009 stated that the reactor prototype was not expected to become available until 2014. [3] The RENAP-11 will then be modified for use in the SNAC-2 nuclear-powered submarine program (which will reportedly require a 48 megawatt PWR reactor). [4]

Brazil's Submarine Tables

As a follow-up to a 2008 defense cooperation agreement, the Brazilian Navy signed detailed contracts in late 2009 with the French naval manufacturer DCNS. These contracts included technology transfers and construction assistance for four Scorpene-class diesel-electric attack submarines, as well as one nuclear powered vessel. With the exception of the first boat, all submarines will be built entirely in Brazil. The first Scorpene-class vessel is expected to leave the dry dock around 2017, while the nuclear submarine's construction is planned to be finished by 2023, and will incorporate the RENAP 11. [5]

Scorpène Submarine, www.dcnsgroup.com

The Brazilian Navy is responsible for the protection of some 7,400 km of coastline, and Brasília's submarines are a critical part of this effort. In addition to attacking the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) of the enemy, they can be employed for power projection through the disembarkation of special forces, for intelligence collection, and for laying mines. [6] Brazilian policymakers and military officials believe that operating a nuclear submarine will enable them to project power and assist in their country's long-term goal of securing a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. [7] Furthermore, the recent discovery of significant oil reserves, underneath the ocean floor in Brazil's territorial waters (an estimated 33 billion barrels), gives further momentum to its pursuit of a nuclear-powered submarine as an asset for protecting the country's natural resources. [8]

The Brazilian Navy's overall strategic goal is to gain an increased sea-denial capability, and it views submarines as a way to achieve that goal. Brazil's USD 8.3BN submarine development program (known as PROSUB) has set a goal of producing 15 diesel-electric submarines and 6 nuclear-powered submarines by 2034. These boats are slated to replace the older Tupi and Tikuna-class submarines. [9]

[1] "The Brazilian Navy - A Naval Force in Evolution," Military Technology, Vol. 29, No. 4 (April 2005), pp. 75-77; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, http://proquest.umi.com.
[2] "Brazil Accelerates Reactor Work For Nuclear Submarine Program," Sea Power, Vol. 47, No. 7 (July 2004), p. 44; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, http://proquest.umi.com.
[3] Wilson Goncalves Junior, "Brazilian Nuclear Submarine Reactor Scheduled by 2014," NPS Global, 5 July 2009, http://npsglobal.org.
[4] "Brazil Accelerates Reactor Work For Nuclear Submarine Program," Sea Power, Vol. 47, No. 7 (July 2004), p. 44; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, http://proquest.umi.com; "Programa de Submarinos e Submarinos Nucleares de Ataque(SNA) da Marinha do Brasil," www.infomarmb.hpg.ig.com.br.
[5] "Construction Begins in Brazil on First DCNS Designed Scorpene Class Submarine at Ceremony Attended by Brazil President, Dilma Rousseff," DCNS Press Release, 18 July 2011, http://en.dcnsgroup.com; "Brazilian Submarine Construction Progress Detailed," BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 17 October 2011, www.lexisnexis.com.
[6] Hartmut Manseck, "Submarine Class 209," Naval Forces, Vol. 24, No. 4 (2003), p. 75; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company, http://proquest.umi.com.
[7] "Xando Pereira, "Precisamos de um Sivam Que Funcione no Mar [We Need a Sivam (Amazonia Vigilance System) That Works at the Sea]," A Tarde, September 4, 2008, www.atarde.com.br.
[8] "Brazil to use nuclear subs to protect undersea oil fields - defence minister," BBC Monitoring Latin America, June 4, 2008; "Brazil," Jane's World Navies, IHS Inc., 2013, Retrieved 14 June 2013.
[9] "Brazil," Jane's World Navies, IHS Inc., 2013, Retrieved 14 June 2013.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.


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