Brazilian Armed Forces

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Brazilian Armed Forces
Forças Armadas Brasileiras
Forcas armadas.jpg
Seal of the Brazilian Armed Forces
Service branchesCoat of arms of the Brazilian Army.svg Brazilian Army

Coat of arms of the Brazilian Navy From 2021 No Name.png Brazilian Navy

COA of Brazilian Air Force.svg Brazilian Air Force
HeadquartersMinistry of Defense, Brasília
Commander-in-Chief[1] President Jair Bolsonaro
Minister of Defence Walter Souza Braga Netto
Chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces General Laerte de Souza Santos
Military age18–45 years of age for compulsory military service
Conscription10 to 12 months
Active personnel334,500[2] (ranked 14th)
Reserve personnel1,340,000[2]
BudgetUS$26.9 billion (2019)[3]
(ranked 11th)
Percent of GDP1.5% (2019)[3]
Domestic suppliers
Foreign suppliers
Related articles
HistoryBrazilian Military History
RanksMilitary ranks of Brazil

The Brazilian Armed Forces (Portuguese: Forças Armadas Brasileiras, IPA: [ˈfoʁsɐz ɐʁˈmadɐz bɾaziˈlejɾɐs]) is the unified military organization comprising the Brazilian Army (including the Brazilian Army Aviation), the Brazilian Navy (including the Brazilian Marine Corps and Brazilian Naval Aviation) and the Brazilian Air Force (including the Aerospace Operations Command).[4]

Brazil's armed forces are the second largest in the Americas, after the United States, and the largest in Latin America and the Southern Hemisphere by the level of military equipment, with 334,500 active-duty troops and officers.[5][6][7] The armed forces are expanding their presence in the Amazon under the Northern Corridor (Calha Norte) program. In 1994 Brazilian troops joined United Nations (UN) peacekeeping forces in five countries. Brazilian soldiers were in Haiti from 2004 until 2017, leading the United Nations Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH).[8]

The Brazilian military, especially the army, has become more involved in civic-action programs, education, health care, and constructing roads, bridges, and railroads across the nation. Although the 1988 constitution preserves the external and internal roles of the armed forces, it places the military under presidential authority. Thus, the new charter changed the manner in which the military could exercise its moderating power.[9]


The Armed Forces of Brazil are divided into 3 branches:[10]

The Military Police (state police) alongside the Military Firefighters Corps are described as an auxiliary and reserve force of the Army.[10] All military branches are part of the Ministry of Defence.[11]

The Brazilian Navy which is the oldest of the Brazilian Armed Forces, includes the Brazilian Marine Corps and the Brazilian Naval Aviation.

Service obligation and manpower[edit]

18–45 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation – 10 to 12 months; 17–45 years of age for voluntary service. An increasing percentage of the ranks are "long-service" volunteer professionals; women were allowed to serve in the armed forces beginning in the early 1980s when the Brazilian Army became the first army in South America to accept women into career ranks; women serve in Navy and Air Force only in Women's Reserve Corps.[12]

Mission and challenges[edit]

South America is a relatively peaceful continent in which wars are a rare event;[13] as a result, Brazil hasn't had its territory invaded since year 1865 during the Paraguayan War.[14] Additionally, Brazil has no contested territorial disputes with any of its neighbours[15] and neither does it have rivalries, like Chile and Bolivia have with each other.[16][17] However, Brazil is the only country besides China and Russia that has land borders with 10 or more nations. Moreover, Brazil has 16,880 kilometers (10,490 mi) of land borders[18] and 7,367 km (4,578 mi)[19] of coastline to be patrolled and defended. Overall, the Armed Forces have to defend 8.5 million km2 (around 3.2 million sq. mi.) of land and patrol 4.4 million km2 (around 1.7 million sq. mi.)[20] of territorial waters – or Blue Amazon, as the Brazilian Navy calls them.[21] To achieve this mission, significant manpower and funding is required.

Military history of Brazil[edit]

Since 1648 the Brazilian Armed Forces have been relied upon to fight in defense of Brazilian sovereignty and to suppress civil rebellions. The Brazilian military also has three times intervened militarily to overthrow the Brazilian government.[22]

The Brazilian Armed Forces were subordinated to the Emperor, its Commander-in-Chief.[23] He was aided by the Ministers of War and Navy in regard to matters concerning the Army and the Armada, respectively. Traditionally, the Ministers of War and Navy were civilians but there were some exceptions.[24][25] The model chosen was the British parliamentary or Anglo-American system, in which "the country's Armed Forces observed unrestricted obedience to the civilian government while maintaining distance from political decisions and decisions referring to borders' security".[26]

The military personnel were allowed to run and serve in political offices while staying on active duty. However, they did not represent the Army or the Armada but instead the population of the city or province where elected.[24] Dom Pedro I chose nine military personnel as Senators and five (out of 14) to the State Council. During the Regency, two were chosen to the Senate and none to the State Council as there was no Council at the time. Dom Pedro II chose four military personnel to become Senators during the 1840s, two in the 1850s and three until the end of his reign. He also chose seven military personnel to be State Counselors during the 1840s and 1850s and three after that.[27]

It has built a tradition of participating in UN peacekeeping missions such as in Haiti and East Timor.[28] Below a list of some of the historical events in which the Brazilian Armed Forces took part:

Armed conflicts involving Brazil[edit]

  • First Battle of Guararapes (1648): Decisive Portuguese victory that helped end Dutch occupation. Due to this battle, the year 1648 is considered as the year of the foundation of the Brazilian Army.[29]
  • Invasion of Cayenne (1809) (1809) : Was a combined military operation by an Anglo-Portuguese expeditionary force against Cayenne, capital of the French South American colony of French Guiana in 1809, during the Napoleonic Wars.
  • Luso-Brazilian invasion (1816–1820) : Was an armed conflict between the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves and the partisans of José Artigas over the Banda Oriental (Eastern Bank), present-day Uruguay.
  • Brazilian War of Independence (1822–1824): Series of military campaigns that had as objective to cement Brazilian sovereignty and end Portuguese resistance.
  • Confederation of the Equator (1824) : Was a short-lived rebellion that occurred in the northeastern region of Brazil during that nation's struggle for independence from Portugal.
  • Cisplatine War (1825–1828) : Armed conflict over an area known as Banda Oriental or "Eastern Shore" between the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata and Empire of Brazil in the aftermath of the United Provinces' emancipation from Spain.
  • Ragamuffin War (1835–1845) : Was a Republican uprising that began in southern Brazil, in the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina in 1835. The rebels, led by Generals Bento Gonçalves da Silva and Antônio de Sousa Neto with the support of the Italian fighter Giuseppe Garibaldi, surrendered to imperial forces in 1845.
  • Platine War (1851–1852): The Brazilian Empire and its allies went to war against the dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas of the Argentine Confederation.
  • Uruguayan War (1864–1865): Brazilian intervention in Uruguay. With support from Argentina, imperial forces deposed President Atanasio Aguirre from office and instated general Venancio Flores in his place.[30]
  • Paraguayan War (1864–1870): Over 200,000 Brazilians fought on this conflict,[29] which is considered as the most serious in Brazilian history.[31]
  • Brazilian Naval Revolt (1893–1894) : Were armed mutinies promoted mainly by Admirals Custodio de Mello and Saldanha da Gama and their fleet of Brazilian Navy ships against unconstitutional staying in power of the central government in Rio de Janeiro.
  • War of Canudos (1893–1897): The deadliest rebellion of Brazil, the insurrectionists defeated the first 3 military forces sent to quell the rebellion.[29]
  • Contestado War (1912–1916) : Was a guerrilla war for land between settlers and landowners, the latter supported by the Brazilian state's police and military forces. The war lasted from October 1912 to August 1916.
  • Brazil during World War I: Brazil entered into World War I in 1917 alongside the Triple Entente. Brazil's effort in World War I occurred mainly in the Atlantic campaign, with a smaller participation in the land warfare.
  • Constitutionalist Revolution (1932) : Was the armed movement occurred in the State of São Paulo, Brazil, between July and October 1932, which aimed at the overthrow of the Provisional Government of Getúlio Vargas and the promulgation of a new constitution for Brazil.
  • Brazil in World War II (1942–1945): Brazil declared war on Nazi Germany in August 1942[22] and in 1944 sent an Expeditionary Force of 25,334 soldiers to fight in Italy. Brazil also supplied vital raw materials for the war effort and ceded important airbases at Natal and Fernando de Noronha Archipel that made possible the North African invasion, i.e. Operation Torch, and had a key role in patrolling the South Atlantic sea lanes.

Brazilian Expeditionary Force, initially composed of an infantry division, eventually covered all Brazilian military forces who participated in the conflict, including the Brazilian Air Force who did a remarkable job in the last nine months of war with 445 missions executed. Offensive: 2546, Defensive: 4.[32]

Brazilian military coups d'état[edit]

Although no military coups occurred during the 67 years of the Brazilian Empire, the Republican period experienced 4 military coups d'état in the 75 years between 1889 and 1964.

Ministry of Defence[edit]

General Walter Braga Netto, the current defence minister.

Today, few countries do not bring their Armed Forces under one defense agency, subordinate to the Head of the Executive. In Brazil, until 1999, the three Armed Forces remained as independent ministries. However, the quarrel over the creation of a single Ministry of Defense, integrating the Navy, the Army and the Air Force is old. The 1946 Constitution already cited the creation of just one Ministry, which resulted in the institution of the E.M.F.A, at the time called General staff. Ex-President of the Republic Castelo Branco, defended the thesis of the creation of a Ministry of Defense. It signed Decree 200, of 25 February 1967, that the Ministry of the Armed Forces foresaw the promotion of studies to elaborate the law project creating. However, the proposal was abandoned. During the Constitutional convention of 1988, the subject of the creation of such a ministry was debated and one more time it was filed. Finally in 1992, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, then candidate to the presidency, declared that under his presidency it will be a priority of his term to finally create a Ministry of Defence.

The President of the Republic still intended to create a ministry in his first term. The idea was to optimize the system of national defense, to legalize one politics of sustainable defense and to integrate the three Forces, rationalizing their activities. During the years of 1995/96 the EMFA, responsible for the studies on the Ministry of Defense, evidenced that, amongst 179 countries, only 23 did not have integrated Armed Forces. Of these 23, only three, amongst them Brazil, had dimensions politics to justify its creation, as for example, territorial extension and trained and structuralized Armed Forces. The Ministries of Defense of Germany, Argentina, Chile, Spain, USA, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Portugal had been chosen for deepened analysis because they had some type of identification with Brazil, as territorial extension, population, budget and finance of the Armed Forces, amongst others.

Ministry of Defense of Brazil

On 10 July 1999, the Ministry of Defence was created, with the abolition of the EMFA and the merger of all three ministries of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) into a singular ministry of the Cabinet.

To give continuity to the creation studies, President Fernando Henrique created the Inter-ministerial Work group that defined the lines of direction for implantation of the Ministry of Defense. Reelected, he nominated Senator Élcio Álvares, Extraordinary minister of the Defense, on 1 January 1999. The former senator was the person in charge for the formation of the agency. The three services are separate from each other, except in three areas: the Armed Forces General Staff (Estado-Maior das Forças Armadas-EMFA), the National Defense Council (Conselho de Defesa Nacional-CDN), and the Armed Forces High Command (Alto Comando das Forças Armadas-ACFA). The EMFA, which is involved in planning and coordination, interprets interservice views about policy and came the closest to functioning as a ministry of defense. It is headed by a four-star general, and the chair rotates amongst the services. The ACFA is involved with more immediate, day-to-day problems. It is composed of the ministers of the three services, their chiefs of staff, and the EMFA chief.

According to Article 91 of the constitution, the CDN is "the consultative body of the president of the republic in matters related to national sovereignty and the defense of the democratic state." The members of the CDN are the president, the vice president, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, the president of the Senate, the minister of justice, military ministers, the minister of foreign affairs, and the minister of planning. The CDN has authority to "express an opinion in instances of declaration of war and the celebration of peace" and to "express an opinion on the decreeing of a state of emergency, state of siege, or federal intervention." In addition, the CDN is authorized to "propose the criteria and conditions for the use of areas that are vital to the security of the national territory and express an opinion on their continued use, especially in the strip along the borders, and on matters related to the conservation and exploitation of natural resources of any kind." The CDN also may "study, propose, and monitor the progress of initiatives necessary to guarantee national independence and the defense of the democratic state."

The highest level consultative body available to the president is the Council of the Republic (Conselho da República). This body does not include any military minister or officer, although the president may call on a military minister to participate if the matter is related to the respective ministry's agenda. According to Article 89 of the constitution, the Council of the Republic has authority to make declarations of federal intervention, a state of emergency, and a state of siege (all security-related issues).[33]

Joint Staff of the Armed Forces[edit]

Army High Command HQ in Brasília

Joint Staff of the Armed Forces is an agency of the Ministry of Defense of Brazil, which centralizes the coordination of command of the armed forces: Army, Navy and Air Force. It was created by Complementary Law No. 136 of 25 August 2010, and has in Ordinance No. 1429 its operating guidelines.

Advising the Minister of Defense in the upper direction of the armed forces, aiming the organization, preparation and employment, in order to fulfill its constitutional mission and its subsidiaries assignments, with the goals strategic planning and the joint use of the military services.

It is up to JSAF plan together and integrated employment of staff of the Navy, Army and Air Force, optimizing the use of the military and logistical support in the defense of the country and in peacekeeping, humanitarian and rescue operations; border security; and civil defense actions.

The body has its powers and duties according to the Regimental Structure approved by Decree 7.9744, April 1, 2013. Since its inception, the JSAF has worked with the Central Administration of the Ministry of Defence, on the Esplanade of Ministries in Brasilia (DF).

The head of the JSAF is private of a general officer of the last post, active or reserve, designated by the Ministry of Defence and appointed by the president. Their hierarchical level is the same of the military commanders of the Navy, Army and Air Force. Under the coordination of the Joint Armed Forces also operates the Committee of Chiefs of Staffs of the military services.

The current head of JSAF is the Army General Laerte de Souza Santos.[34]

Brazilian Army[edit]

Brazilian troops on the march
Rocket artillery

must retire at age sixty-six, or after 12 years as general. As in most South American nations, the Brazilian Army (Portuguese: Exército Brasileiro, [ɛˈzɛʁsitu bɾaziˈlejɾu]) has been the most influential of the services because of its size, deployment, and historical development. Not only did senior army generals occupy the presidency from 1964 until 1985, but most of the officers who held cabinet posts during that time were from the army. In 1997 the army totaled 200,000 members. Brazil's army has strict up-or-out retirement rules, which were developed in the mid-1960s by President Castelo Branco. The internal command structure determines all promotions through the rank of colonel. The president is involved in the promotions to general and chooses one candidate from a list of three names presented to him by the High Command. Once passed over, the colonel must retire. All colonels must retire at age fifty-nine; and all four-star generals

Battle in the jungle
Special Commandos

Despite the up-or-out system, under President José Sarney the army became top-heavy as generals began to occupy many positions that previously had been reserved for colonels. In 1991 there were 15 four-star, forty three-star, and 110 two-star generals. The figure for four-star generals did not include four who were ministers in the Superior Military Court (Superior Tribunal Militar-STM). Thus, in the mid-1990s the army sought to reduce the number of active-duty generals. Considering the short conscript tour (usually nine to ten months), the army has a high number of conscripts: 125,000. Because of the need for literate and skilled young men to handle modern weapons, the army has served as a training ground for a large reserve force. Its highly professional officer corps serves as a nucleus around which the trained service would be mobilized if required.

Garrison (driver and shooter) of an armored vehicle
Airborne troops

The noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps is not well developed. NCOs have virtually no autonomy or authority. Emphasis on training and professional development is for officers only. The NCOs account for slightly more than one-third of the total army strength. About half of the NCOs are sergeants, who serve as command links between officers and ranks. Some also serve as middle-level technicians. In the early 1990s, the army began to undergo a generational change. The generals of the early 1990s had been junior officers in the early 1960s and had witnessed the military coup in 1964. Their worldview was shaped and influenced by the anticommunism of that time. These generals were being replaced by colonels who had entered the army in the early 1970s and whose view of the world had been shaped less by ideology and more by pragmatism. The United States, particularly through its counterinsurgency doctrines of the early 1960s, was more influential with the older group of officers.

Brazilian Army infantry

The Army General Staff (Estado-Maior do Exército-EME) directs training and operations. The EME has expanded from four sections in 1968 to 15 sections in 1994. It is headed by the EME chief, except in the event of a war. From 1946 through 1985, the army was divided into four numbered armies: the First Army was centered in Rio de Janeiro, the Second Army in São Paulo, the Third Army in Porto Alegre, and the Fourth Army in Recife. Historically, the First Army was the most politically significant because of Rio de Janeiro's position as the nation's capital through the 1950s. The Third Army was also important because of its shared border with Argentina (Brazil's traditional rival in Latin America) and Uruguay. In 1964, for example, close to two-thirds of the Brazilian troops were in the Third Army, and somewhat fewer than one-third were in the First Army. The rest were sprinkled throughout the Second and Fourth Armies. The Planalto Military Command (Comando Militar do Planalto-CMP), comprising the Federal District and Goiás State, and the Amazon Military Command (Comando Militar da Amazônia-CMA) supplemented the four armies.

Tanks column of the Brazilian Army
Brazilian Leopard in night firing

On January 1, 1986, the army was restructured from four numbered armies and two military commands into seven military commands. The major addition was the Western Military Command (Comando Militar do Oeste-CMO), whose territory encompasses the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul (previously under the Second Army territory), and Rondônia (previously under the CMA). Each of the seven military commands has its headquarters in a major city: Eastern Military Command (Comando Militar do Leste-CML), Rio de Janeiro; Southeastern Military Command (Comando Militar do Sudeste-CMSE), São Paulo; Southern Military Command (Comando Militar do Sul-CMS), Porto Alegre; Northeastern Military Command (Comando Militar do Nordeste-CMN), Recife; CMO, Campo Grande; CMP, Brasília; and CMA, Manaus. The CMP and CMO are led by major generals (three-star); the other five are headed by full generals (four-star). The army is divided further into 11 military regions. The CMSE is made up of only one state, São Paulo, and is in charge of protecting the industrial base of the country.

VBTP-MR Guarani in firing operation
Infantry air-defense brigade

The changes were instituted as part of a modernisation campaign to make the army better prepared for rapid mobilisation. The reorganization reflected Brazil's geopolitical drive to "occupy the frontier" and the growing importance of Brasília, the Amazon, and western Brazil. In 1997 there were major units around Brasília, four jungle brigades, and five jungle battalions extending from Amapá to Mato Grosso do Sul. A tour with jungle units is a coveted assignment and is considered career-enhancing. The move to occupy the Amazon and the short-term political implications of the army's reorganisation should not be overstated. The army's geographic organization and distribution have continued to reflect a concern with internal rather than external defense. In what is perhaps an anachronism, the CML in Rio de Janeiro continues to have some of the best troop units and the most modern equipment. Command of the CML is still a coveted assignment, and the Military Village (Vila Militar), Rio de Janeiro's garrison or military community, is still considered one of the most important centers of military influence in the entire country. Principal army schools are located there or nearby. The CML is also important in countering the trafficking of drugs and armaments.

Brazilian Flakpanzer Gepard
Electronic warfare trucks

In a significant political development, the army established a formal High Command in 1964. Before that time, a clique of generals residing in Rio de Janeiro controlled major decisions of the army. Throughout the authoritarian period, tensions often existed between the High Command and the five generals who served as president. This tension was such that President Geisel dismissed Minister of Army Sylvio Frota in 1977. Since the January 1986 restructuring, the High Command has been composed of the seven regional commanders, the chief of staff, and the minister of army. The High Command meets to discuss all issues, including those of a political nature, and is responsible for drawing up the list of generals from which the president chooses those who will be promoted to four stars.[35]

The Army High Command of Brazil is formed by the Army Commander and other army generals in active service.[36] The country current have sixteen active 4-star generals, several of then in command posts, in addition to a post in the Ministry of Defence. The mission of ACE include the selection of a list of candidates to the post of commander, the prospection of regional and global political situations, among others roles. All Brazilian generals are graduates of the Brazilian Superior War School.[37][38]

Brazilian Navy[edit]

Brazilian Navy Task Force
A-4 Skyhawk in Brazilian Navy
Frigate Constituição underway

The navy (Portuguese: Marinha do Brasil, [hi du bɾɐˈziw]) traces its heritage to Admiral Cochrane's mercenary fleet and to the tiny Portuguese ships and crews that protected the earliest coastal colonies from seaborne marauders. The navy is the most aristocratic and conservative of the services and draws a larger share of its officers from the upper middle class and upper class. Although it is involved in "brown-water" (riverine and coastal) operations, the navy's primary goal has been to become an effective "blue-water" navy, able to project power on the high seas. Given its "blue-water" bias, the navy is even less inclined to become involved in counterdrug operations than the army or air force.

Brazilian frigates in shooting exercise
Helicopter carrier Atlântico
Corvette Barroso firing missile Exocet

The total naval strength of 64,700 in 1997 included Naval Aviation with 1,300 members, the Marines Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais-CFN with 14,600 members, and only 2,000 conscripts. Naval operations are directed from the Ministry of Navy in Brasília through the Navy General Staff (Estado-Maior da Armada-EMA), six naval districts (five oceanic and one riverine), and two naval commands-Brasília Naval Command (Comando Naval de Brasília-CNB) and Manaus Naval Command (Comando Naval de Manaus-CNM).

Brazilian Scorpene submarine underway

The 1st Naval District is located at the country's main naval base in Rio de Janeiro; the 2nd Naval District is in Salvador; the 3rd Naval District is located in Natal; the 4th Naval District is located in Belém; and the 5th Naval District is located in Porto Alegre. The 6th Riverine District has its headquarters in Ladário, near Corumbá on the Paraguay River.

Brazilian EC 725 in flight

Until the 1980s, the flagship of the ocean-going navy was the aircraft carrier Minas Gerais (the ex-British HMS Vengeance), which has been in service since 1945. Purchased from Britain in 1956, the Minas Gerais was reconstructed in the Netherlands in 1960 and refitted extensively in Brazil in the late 1970s, and again in 1993. In 1994 Mário César Flores, a former minister of navy, declared in an interview that the navy would be hard-pressed to defend Minas Gerais in a conflict.

EC725 firing a Exocet missile

While the Minas Gerais was not considered likely to be replaced until the next century, it was nonetheless decommissioned in 2001 following the purchase of the French aircraft carrier Foch. The Foch upon entering service with the Brazilian Navy, was renamed the São Paulo. It operates A-4KU. As of July 2002, the fate of the Minas Gerais was still unknown, with China having reportedly made a surprise bid for its purchase.

Task Force with NDM Bahia leading

The navy's priority re-equipment plans for the 1990s included the receipt of new Inhaúma-class corvettes, the construction of Tupi-class submarines, the refurbishing of the Niterói-class frigates, the acquisition of nine new Super Lynx and up to six former United States Navy Sikorsky SH-3G/H Sea King helicopters, the construction of the conventional SNAC-1 submarine prototype, and the development of nuclear-propulsion technology. In addition, the navy contracted in late 1994 to acquire four Type 22 British Royal Navy frigates and three River-class minesweepers for delivery in the 1995–97 period.

After years of intense rivalry between the navy and the air force for the control of naval aviation, President Castelo Branco decreed in 1965 that only the air force would be allowed to operate fixed-wing aircraft and that the navy would be responsible for helicopters. According to many critics, such an unusual division of labor caused serious command and control problems. The complement of aircraft carried by Minas Gerais included at one point six Grumman S-2E antisubmarine planes, in addition to several SH-3D Sea King helicopters and Aérospatiale Super Puma and HB-350 Esquilo helicopters.

In accordance with the Castelo Branco compromise, the S-2E aircraft were flown by air force pilots and the helicopters by navy pilots. A crew of the Minas Gerais with full air complement consisted of 1,300 officers and enlisted personnel. As of late 2002, the Navy had reportedly become responsible for flying all aircraft with the rivalry having subsided between the two branches of the armed forces.[39]

Brazilian Air Force[edit]

Squadron of Brazilian Mil Mi-35 helicopters
A-29 Super Tucano patrolling the Amazon rainforest

The Brazilian Air Force (Portuguese: Força Aérea Brasileira, [ˌfoʁsaˑˈɛɾjɐ bɾaziˈlejɾɐ], also known as FAB, [ˈfabi] or [ˌɛfiaˈbe]) is the second-largest air force in the Americas (behind only the United States) and has around 70,000 active personnel. The FAB is subdivided into four operational commands:

A-1 strike fighter

I FAE (I Força Aérea) Advanced fixed and rotary wings instruction; II FAE (II Força Aérea) Maritime patrol, SAR, helicopters transport roles and Navy support; III FAE (III Força Aérea) Fighter command, it has all first-line combat assets under its control – fighter, attack and reconnaissance aircraft; IV FAE (IV Força Aérea) – responsible for transport missions.

Two F-5M fighters taking off in aerial alert
UH-60L utility helicopter

The Aeronautic Ministry was created on January 20, 1941, and absorbed the former Army and Navy aviation under its command. In 1944 the Brazilian Air Force joined Allied forces in Italy and operated there for about seven months, this was the FAB baptism in a real conflict. In 1999 after a creation of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the Aeronautic Ministry changed its designation to Aeronautic Command, but no big changes happened to the air force structure, it kept almost the same organization it had before.

Brazilian CASA C-295 in mission

The biggest, and most important, program of the FAB in the last years is the SIPAM (Sistema de Proteção da Amazônia – Amazonian Protection System), the operational part of the SIPAM is known by SIVAM (Sistema de Vigilância da Amazônia – Amazon Vigilance System). The SIVAM is a huge network of radars, sensors and personnel integrated to guard and protect the Amazon Rainforest and its resources. In 2002 the Embraer R-99A AEW&C equipped with the Ericsson Erieye Airborne Radar and the R-99B SR (Electronic Intelligence Gathering version) entered service. The R-99 fleet is one of the principal components of the system, the aircraft are based at Anápolis AB near Brasília and fly 24 hours a day over the Amazonian region.

Embraer KC-390, cargo aircraft of the Brazilian Air Force

The backbone of the Brazilian combat aviation made up of three types, the Northrop F-5E/F, the Embraer/Aermacchi A-1A/B (AMX) and the Embraer A/T-29 Super Tucano. The F-5s are under a modernisation program called F-5BR program, the aircraft official designation is F-5M. The upgrade is being carried out by Embraer and Elbit; it includes a new avionics suite, a full glass cockpit with three MFDs, HOTAS configuration and a new multimode radar, the Italian Grifo F. The first F-5EM was handed over on September 21, 2005, and it is scheduled at a rate of two aircraft being delivered each month from that date onwards.

E-99 AEW&C

The A-1s are the main attack/ bomber aircraft of the FAB. There are three squadrons operating the A-1, one of them equipped with the RA-1 variant having a reconnaissance function as its primary role, but retaining all attack capabilities of the A-1. The RA-1s are equipped with RAFAEL's RecceLite reconnaissance system. Like the F-5, the A-1 is under a MLU (Mid Life Upgrade) program as well, this upgrade giving a high commonality between the avionics of the A-1M (MLU aircraft designation), the F-5M and the newly introduced Embraer A/T-29.

H225M approaching helicoper carrier Atlântico

With the Mirage III withdrawn, the air defence of Brasília and region is done temporarily by a mix of F-5s from 1st GAv and 1st/14th GAv until 10 Mirage 2000Cs and two Mirage 2000B bought from French Air Force surplus stocks arrive at Anápolis. The Mirage 2000s are meant to be in service until at least 2015, when the Brazilian Air Force foresee the (postponed) F-X entering in service.

Brazilian Gripen flies over Brasília on October 2020

To replace the Embraer P-95 Bandeirulha in the maritime patrol duties, 12 Lockheed P-3A Orions have been bought from US Navy surplus and eight (with an option for a ninth) of them are being upgraded by EADS CASA in Spain, the remainder are to be used as spare parts source. On the same day of contract signature for the P-3BR work, 29 April 2005, EADS CASA was also awarded a contract to supply 12 C-295M medium transport aircraft. Deliveries started in 2006 with the first aircraft arriving in October 2006. The first three C-295s, designated C-105A Amazonas in Brazilian service, were commissioned into service in a formal ceremony at Base Aérea de Manaus on March 31, 2007. The C-105 replaces the FAB's C-115 Buffalo fleet and will supplement the C-130 Hercules.

The main heavy transport aircraft is the Lockheed C-130H Hercules and it will not change soon. The "Herks" are receiving major upgrades, receiving a full glass cockpit besides many other modifications. The first upgraded C-130 entering operational service recently. There are four Boeing KC-137 used as transport and tankers roles. In 2005 FAB received one Airbus ACJ, callsign "Air Force One" and dubbed as "Santos Dumont." The ACJ is now the main presidential transport and it is assisted by two Boeing 737-200 and one AS-332 Super Puma, with the KC-137 still serving as presidential transport in case of necessity. The basic pilot training is concentrated in Pirassununga (AFA – Academia da Força Aérea) and uses the Neiva T-25 and the well known Embraer T-27 Tucano for basic instruction. Advanced training is done at Natal AB in the AT-29 Super Tucano, which replaced the Embraer AT-26 Xavante in the conversion training course.

Brazilian aerospace command[edit]

The Aerospace Operations Command is a Brazilian air and space command created in 2017[40] and is part of the Brazilian Air Force. Is responsible for planning, coordinating, executing and controlling the country's air and space operations.[41] The Brazilian Navy and Brazilian Army also are part of the organization.

Troop relocation[edit]

SOF Brazilian Marines

Brazil has the need to patrol its 16,880 kilometers (10,490 mi) of land borders.[18] Since the 1990s Brazil has been relocating its forces in accordance to this national security requirement.

Between 1992 and 2008, the 1st, 2nd and 16th Jungle Infantry Brigades,[42][43] the 3rd Infantry Battalion, the 19th Logistics Battalion, and the 22nd Army Police Platoon were transferred by the Army from the states of Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul to the Amazon region[44] in accordance with the friendship policy with Argentina. After those redeployments the number of Army troops in that region rose to 25,000.[45] Also relocated from the state of Rio de Janeiro were the 1st and 3rd Combat Cars Regiment, now stationed in the city of Santa Maria, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.[44]

However, despite those efforts, the presence of the Armed Forces on the border regions of the Brazilian Amazon continues to be sparse and disperse, given the fact that the Army has just 28 border detachments in that area, a total of 1,600 soldiers, or 1 man for every 7 km (4.3 mi) of borders.[18] More redeployments are expected since the states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo still concentrate over 49,000 soldiers.[44] In May 2008, the Navy announced new plans to reposition its forces throughout Brazil.[44]

Communications and territorial surveillance[edit]

The Brazilian territory corresponds to 47.3% of the South American continent,[46] and its land border is over 16.000 km and 4,5 million km2 of sea territory.[47] With the objective of ensuring Brazil's sovereignty, strategic monitoring and communications projects have been launched in recent years.


Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the inauguration of the Space Operations Center in Brasília, June 2020.

The Geostationary Defense and Strategic Communications Satellites or SGDC, are geostationary communication satellites developed by the Brazilian Air Force and the Brazilian Space Agency, created with the objective of operating strategic military, government and civil communications, also offering broadband internet throughout the national territory.[48] The first satellite called SGDC-1, was launched in 2017[49] and the SGDC-2 has planned to launch in 2022.[50] The Space Operations Center (COPE) was inaugurated in 2020, subordinated to the Aerospace Operations Command, with the objective of operating the satellites.[48]


Ponta Porã radar station

The Integrated Border Monitoring System (SISFRON) is a border system developed by the Brazilian Army for supporting operational employment decisions, operating in an integrated manner with all defense systems in the country, whose purpose is to strengthen the presence and capacity for monitoring and action in the national land border strip. Was conceived at the initiative of the Army Command, as a result of the approval of the National Defense Strategy in 2008, which guides the organization of the Armed Forces.[47] The SISFRON are deployed along the 16,886 kilometers of the border line, favoring the employment of organizations subordinate to the North, West, Southern and the Amazon military commands.[47]


The Blue Amazon Management System, is a surveillance system developed by the Brazilian Navy, in order to oversee the Blue Amazon, the country's exclusive economic zone and a resource-rich area covering about 4,500,000 km2 (1,700,000 sq mi) off the Brazilian coast. This area is home to a huge diversity of marine species, valuable metallic minerals and other mineral resources, petroleum, and the world's second largest rare-earth reserve.[51] The SisGAAz integrates equipment and systems composed of radars incorporated on land and vessels, as well as high resolution cameras and features such as the fusion of information received from collaborative systems.[52]


The Link-BR2 is a datalink developed by the Air Force and the Brazilian defence company AEL Sistemas, this technology allow the exchange of data such radar information, videos and images with other units of the three branches anytime and anywere, using an advanced encrypted protocol with a high degree of security.[53][54]

Earth observation[edit]

Earthly station's satellite dish of the National Institute for Space Research, in Cuiabá.

The Brazilian Amazon sustains about 40% of the world's remaining tropical rainforests and plays vital roles in maintaining biodiversity, regional hydrology and climate, and terrestrial carbon storage. Recent studies suggest that deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon could increase sharply in the future as a result of over US$40 billion in planned investments in highway paving and major new infrastructure projects in the region.

These studies have been challenged by several Brazilian ministries, which assert that recent improvements in environmental laws, enforcement and public attitudes have fundamentally reduced the threat posed to forests by such projects.

Amongst tropical nations, Brazil probably has the world's best monitoring of deforestation activity. Estimates are produced by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) for the entire Brazilian Legal Amazon by visually interpreting satellite imagery from the Landsat Thematic Mapper. The relevance of the CBERS program does not limit itself only to applications of the satellite-generated images. The program also takes part in the Space Activities National Program (PNAE) which objective is to lead the country toward the autonomy of this technology, vital in a path to sustainable development.

The INPE participation in this complex project accelerates the capability of the country in important space technologies, besides contributing to increase and modernize the national industry in the space sector and the infrastructure (laboratories and centers) dedicated to space projects. There has been participation of the national industry in all satellite subsystems on charge of Brazil.[55]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bolsonaro participa em Brasília de cerimônia da troca de comando do Exército".
  2. ^ a b IISS 2018, pp. 390
  3. ^ a b Tian, Nan; Fleurant, Aude; Kuimova, Alexandra; Wezeman, Pieter D.; Wezeman, Siemon T. (27 April 2020). "Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2019" (PDF). Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  4. ^ According to article 144 of the 1988 Brazilian Constitution, the para-military Military Police alongside the Military Firefighters Corps are constitutionally considered an auxiliary and potential reserve to the Army, though subordinate to the state governors. They can, however, be compelled to federal service under a statute similar to posse comitatus[1]. Archived August 11, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ IISS 2012, pp. 376–378
  6. ^ Uma Nova Agenda Militar Archived 2017-03-25 at the Wayback Machine Revista Época. Retrieved on 16 April 2015.
  7. ^ "Total Available Active Military Manpower by Country". Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  8. ^ Brazilian troops leave Haiti
  9. ^ Information – Brazilian Army
  10. ^ a b "Brazilian Federal Constitution". Brazilian Government (official text). Retrieved 17 May 2007. See also: "Brazilian Federal Constitution in English", text translated to English (unofficial). Retrieved on 2007-05-17.
  11. ^ Ministry of Defence Structure "Defence" Ministério da Defesa. Retrieved June 22, 2007. Archived April 14, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Military service age and obligation in Brazil
  13. ^ (p. 9)
  14. ^ "Especial – NOTÍCIAS – Uma nova agenda militar". Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  15. ^ CIA – The World Factbook
  16. ^ "People's Daily Online – Bolivia bans Argentina from reselling gas to Chile". 25 October 2006. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  17. ^ "Fresh anger over Bolivia gas plan". BBC News. 16 April 2004. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  18. ^ a b c "Especial – NOTÍCIAS – Uma nova agenda militar". Archived from the original on 25 March 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  19. ^ "Litoral brasileiro – Geografia – UOL Educação". 20 December 2007. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  20. ^ [2] (p.22) Archived March 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Amazônia Azul
  22. ^ a b c d e "Especial – NOTÍCIAS – Os pés de barro de um gigante". Archived from the original on 25 August 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  23. ^ See Articles 102 and 148 of the Brazilian Constitution of 1824
  24. ^ a b Carvalho (2007), p.193
  25. ^ Lyra, p.84
  26. ^ Pedrosa, p.289
  27. ^ Holanda, pp.241–242
  28. ^ Rohter, Larry (1 August 2004). "Brazil Is Leading a Largely South American Mission to Haiti". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  29. ^ a b c d "Especial – NOTÍCIAS – Uma nova agenda militar". Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  30. ^ "História 2 Ano: 17 – Formação dos países platinos". 17 November 2008. Archived from the original on 9 July 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  31. ^ Arruda, José and Piletti, Nelson -Toda a História (1997)(7° edition)(229 p.)
  32. ^ Koshiba, Luiz and Pereira, Denise – História do Brasil (1999) (7° edition) (291 p.)
  33. ^ About Ministry of Defense of Brazil
  34. ^ "Estado-Maior Conjunto das Forças Armadas tem novo Chefe". Defesa Aerea e Naval (in Portuguese). 1 June 2021.
  35. ^ Brazilian Army
  36. ^ "Apresentação". Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  37. ^ "Alto Comando do Exército se reúne para tratar da crise com Bolsonaro e Pazuello". O Globo. 2 June 2021.
  38. ^ "História da ESG". Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  39. ^ Brazilian Navy
  40. ^ "COMAE". Brazilian Air Force (in Portuguese). Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  41. ^ "COMAE media" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  42. ^ "Entrevista – Enzo Martins Peri". Resenha Eletrônica. Archived from the original on 21 October 2008. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  43. ^ ":: Operação TIMBÓ IV ::". Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  44. ^ a b c d "O DIA Online – União cortará tropa do Rio". Archived from the original on 16 December 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
  45. ^ "Estadã". 20 April 2008. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  46. ^ "Brazil – Land". Permanent Missions. United Nations. Geography. Archived from the original on 23 October 2014.
  47. ^ a b c "SISFRON". Brazilian Army (in Portuguese).
  48. ^ a b "Cerimônia marca inauguração das instalações do Centro de Operações Espaciais". Brazilian Air Force (in Portuguese). 24 June 2020.
  49. ^ "Brasil lança satélite que permitirá acesso à banda larga em áreas remotas". G1, Brasília (in Portuguese). 4 May 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  50. ^ Henry, Caleb (10 April 2019). "Brazil to order second dual civil-military communications satellite". SpaceNews. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  51. ^ "Brasil tem segunda maior reserva mundial de terras raras, mas não aparece entre os maiores produtores" (in Portuguese). O Globo. 30 May 2019.
  52. ^ "SisGAAz: Proteção e Monitoramento das Águas Jurisdicionais Brasileiras". Brazilian Navy (in Portuguese).
  53. ^ "FAB coloca para rodar sistema de última geração feito para o caça Gripen". Veja (in Portuguese). 16 December 2020.
  54. ^ "FAB prepara os testes de voo do Projeto Link-BR2". Tecnodefesa (in Portuguese). 1 December 2020.
  55. ^ Earth observation in Brazil


External links[edit]