Brazilian aircraft carrier São Paulo (A12)

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Sao Paulo carrier.jpg
Career (Brazil)
Name: São Paulo
Namesake: State of São Paulo
Launched: 1960 by France
Commissioned: 15 November 2000
Status: Undergoing an extensive upgrade. Scheduled to be operational by 2011.[1]
Notes: see Foch (R 99) for prior history
General characteristics
Class & type: Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier
Displacement: 24,200 tonnes
32,800 tonnes (full load)
Length: 265 m (869 ft)
Beam: 31.7 m (104 ft)
Draught: 8.60 m (28.2 ft)
Propulsion: 6 Indret boilers, 4 steam turbines producing 126,000 hp, 2 propellers
Speed: 32 knots (59 km/h)
Range: 7,500 nautical miles (13,900 km) at 18 knots
Complement: 1,338 men (1,920 including the air group). 984 men if only helicopters are carried.
Electronic warfare
& decoys:

DRBV-23B air sentry radar
DRBV-50 low-altitude or surface sentry radar (later replaced by a DRBV-15)
NRBA-50 approach radar
DRBI-10 tri-dimensional air sentry radar
several DRBC-31 fire radar (later DRBC-32C)

DRBN-34 navigation radars
Armament: four 100 mm turrets, two SACP Crotale EDIR systems, five 12.7 mm machine guns, 4 dual Simbad launchers
Aircraft carried: 39 aircraft: 22 jets and 17 helicopters.[2] A-4KU Skyhawks, AS 532 SC Cougars, HB 350 & HB.355 Ecureuils, and SH-3 Sea Kings

NAe[a] São Paulo (A12) is a Clemenceau-class aircraft carrier currently in service with the Brazilian Navy. The São Paulo was first commissioned in 1963 by the French Navy as the Foch and was transferred in 2000 to Brazil, where she became the new flagship of the Brazilian Navy.

Background[edit]

The aircraft carrier São Paulo was built in France between 1957 and 1960, and served in the French Navy as the Foch. In September 2000, she was purchased by Brazil for US$12 million — no aircraft were included in the price — to replace the aged World War II-era carrier Minas Gerais, which had been in commission for over 40 years. The government of Brazil had already purchased a flotilla of used A-4 Skyhawk fighter planes from Kuwait for $70 million; these planes, along with existing helicopters already in the national defense inventory, were to compose the São Paulo fighter-bomber group. These A-4s (designated AF-1) are capable of carrying armament including rockets, free-fall bombs, and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.

The Clemenceau class aircraft carriers, of which the São Paulo is the last surviving member, are of conventional CATOBAR design. The flight deck is 165.5 metres (543 ft) long by 29.5 metres (97 ft) wide; the landing area is angled at 8 degrees off of the ship's axis. The forward aircraft elevator is to starboard, and the rear elevator is positioned on the deck edge to save hangar space. The forward of two 52-metre (171 ft) catapults is on the bow to port; the second catapult is farther back on the angled landing deck. The hangar deck dimensions are 152 metres (499 ft) by 22 to 24 metres (72 to 79 ft) with 7 metres (23 ft) overhead.[3]

The São Paulo was purchased while still operational, an unusual process for such a large ship. She was received by the Brazilian Navy and was incorporated into the Brazilian Navy on 15 November 2000. The incorporation of São Paulo and the AF-1 fighter group marked the realization of Brazil's long-held goal of being able to conduct aerial defense of its naval forces with fixed-wing aircraft.

President Fernando Henrique Cardoso noted during the transfer ceremony that:

The transfer of the aircraft carrier São Paulo to the Operative Sector of the Navy adds to our naval power an important magnification in its ability of defense of the Brazilian interests at sea. A country as ours, possessing an extensive coast, with more than 7,000 kilometers of coast, requires a naval power compatible with its stature in the international scene. Today, as before, Brazil is concerned about implementing concrete measures that offer the nation the guarantee of respect to its sovereignty. We are and we will always be a nation that fights for peace, however, that does not mean being able to do without modern Armed Forces, enabled and endowed with adequate dissuasive potential. Few countries, even today, have the capacity to operate with efficiency in the high seas. It is important that Brazil continues to be one of them."[4]

Since her construction, the São Paulo has received multiple upgrades, leaving her with a diverse range of technologies. In her current form, she is expected to remain effective in her role for the foreseeable future, though further modernization efforts are expected as she is converted into a combat-ready vessel.

Brazilian service[edit]

An AF-1 Skyhawk (A-4KU) on board the São Paulo

In her first three years of service as the São Paulo, the ship completed several missions, some in foreign waters, particularly Operations ARAEX,[5] PASSEX, and TEMPEREX,[6] which is used annually to qualify and train the Argentine Navy's Super Etendards and S-2T Turbo Trackers.[7]

The São Paulo currently serves mainly to train pilots to fly carrier operations. She is actively used for the qualification and re-qualification of rotary and fixed-wing pilots (with about 500 catapult launches)[clarification needed], and she was used during the first Brazilian exercises to practice carrier-based attack missions.[8]

Upgrade (2005–10) and sea trials[edit]

View of the forward flight deck of the Brazilian aircraft carrier São Paulo (A12), in 2003. Four McDonnell Douglas AF-1 (A-4) Skyhawk fighters and an Argentine Navy Grumman S-2T Tracker are visible.

During 2005–10, the São Paulo underwent extensive modernization.[8] The upgrade included inspection and repair of the steam turbines; maintenance of the surface condensers; retubing of boilers; repair of two high-pressure compressors; revision of the AC electrical generator; purchase of spare parts; maintenance of pumps, valves, and structural items; addition of two API oil-water separators; installation of two water cooling units; upgrade of the chemical oxygen generator; repair and treatment of oil tanks; substitution of the Naval Tactical Data System; installation of a closed-circuit television system; installation of an IFF transponder; installation of a MAGE system (ESM); flight deck inspection, repair, and painting; upgrade of the Optical Landing System processing unit; and revision of the aircraft catapults.[9] The upgrade was completed in July 2009, and the São Paulo was initially due to be fully operational by August 2010.[1]

Twelve Brazilian Navy A-4 Skyhawks were also scheduled to be upgraded by Embraer at a cost of $140 million.[10] The upgrade was similar to the ones done for the AMX and F-5EM aircraft of the Brazilian Air Force. The program included restoring the aircraft and their current systems, as well as implementing new avionics, radar (specifically the Elta 2032 radar system), power production, and autonomous oxygen generating systems. Possible weapons to be included in the upgrade were MAA-1B, Python 4, and Derby AAMS.

The Brazilian Navy contracted Marsh Aviation to convert four S-2T Turbo Trackers to an Airborne Early Warning (AEW) configuration, and four more for tanking and Carrier Onboard Delivery duties.[11]

According to an article in the October 2010 issue of Air Forces Monthly,[citation needed] it has been confirmed that Brazil has purchased ex-Australian and ex-Uruguayan airframes EX-USN C-1 Trader airframes, for conversion into AEW planes and Tanker aircraft. All of the planes were to be upgraded to S-2T Turbo Tracker configuration with Honeywell TPE 331-14GR engines. The purchase included nine airframes, of which two were for tanker conversion to refuel the AF-1 Skyhawks, and three were for AEW. The rest were purchased as for spares or for cargo duties. The AEW radar requirement was to have a range of 250 miles at 25,000 feet. Operational lifespan for the airframes was to be 10 years. They were expected to be ready in 2011 and 2012.[12]

The São Paulo's SH-3 helicopter fleet was to be replaced by six S-70B Seahawk helicopters. They were purchased in 2008, upgraded, and refurbished for delivery. The helicopters and a package of engines and support equipment were scheduled for delivery in 2009.[13]

At the end of 2010, sea trials began, and as of 2011 the São Paulo had been evaluated by the CIASA (Inspection Commission and Training Advisory). She was expected to rejoin the fleet in late 2013, but suffered another major fire in 2012.[14]

Crew[edit]

The São Paulo's complement is 1,920 (the ship's company is 64 officers and 1274 sailors, with an additional 582 in the air group).[15]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Navio-Aeródromo, "Aircraft carrier" (lit: "Airfield-Ship").

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Porta-aviões São Paulo volta à ativa após 4 anos em reforma" [Aircraft carrier São Paulo back to active service after four year in refitting], O Estado de São Paulo (in Portuguese) (Marinha do Brasil), retrieved 25 November 2009 
  2. ^ "O gigante dos mares voltou após quatro anos parado" [The Seas’ giant is back after four years anchored], O Dia (in Portuguese) (online ed.) (Rio: Terra) .
  3. ^ Pike, John. "Clemenceau Aircraft Carrier". Global security. Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  4. ^ "Discurso do Presidente da República, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, na cerimônia de transferência de subordinação do navio-aeródromo "São Paulo" para o setor operativo da marinha do Brasil" [President of the Republic Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s speech in the ceremony of subordination transfer of the aircraft carrier ship ‘São Paulo’ to the operational sector of the Brazilian navy] (in Portuguese). Radiobrás. Retrieved 23 June 2009. [dead link]
  5. ^ "São Paulo", Brazil, Global Security, retrieved 23 June 2009 .
  6. ^ "NAe São Paulo – A 12", Poder Naval (in Portuguese), retrieved 23 June 2009 [dead link].
  7. ^ "Combined exercise ARAEX", You tube (video recording), Google .
  8. ^ a b A segunda docagem do NAe São Paulo [NAe São Paulo’s second docking] (in Portuguese), BR: Alide, retrieved 24 June 2009 
  9. ^ A12 São Paulo: Modernização [A12 São Paulo: modernisation] (in Portuguese), BR: Defesa, retrieved 23 June 2009 [dead link]
  10. ^ Embraer to Modernize Brazilian Navy AF-1 and AF-1A Jets, Reuters, 14 April 2009, retrieved 14 April 2009 
  11. ^ Compra dos dois S‐2 para a aviação naval prestes a ser concluída [Two S‐2 acquisition for the naval aviation about to be concluded] (in Portuguese), BR: Alide, retrieved 20 July 2010 [dead link]
  12. ^ Brazilian navy buys Traders, Flight Global, 23 August 2010 
  13. ^ FMS: Brazil Requests S-70 Helicopters and Engines, Deagel, retrieved 27 September 2006 
  14. ^ "Militar ferido em incêndio no porta-aviões São Paulo permanece em observação" [Military blessed in fire at the aircraft carrier São Paulo continues under observation], Agência Brasil (in Portuguese) (EBC) .
  15. ^ Navio Aeródromo São Paulo – A 12[dead link] Poder Naval. Retrieved on 24 June 2009. (Portuguese)

External links[edit]