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The Brazilian Ministry of Defence released two separate requirements documents in February: one for a new MBT, the second for a new wheeled fire support vehicle. Both call for new-build platforms to meet national needs.

The MBT requirement is outlined in a document entitled Viatura Blindada de Combate Carro de Combate (VBC-CC). Essential criteria include a 120mm smoothbore gun; protection from 120mm APDS over the frontal arc from a range of 1,000m; and (most challenging of all) gross weight under 50t. The extensive requirement includes a top speed of 60km/h and the ability to integrate either soft- or hard-kill active protection systems. It adds the composite protection should provide the equivalent of 900mm of rolled homogeneous armour and that the hull should be able to survive a 10kg mine blast.

There are few if any current MBTs able to meet this requirement: the only potential candidate might be the Japanese Type 10. Gen Edson Leal Pujol, Commander of the Brazilian Army, visited Japan in July 2019 and was treated to a display of Japanese armour, including the Type 10 and the Type 16 mobile combat vehicle. This display may possibly have influenced the Brazilian requirement and informed the criteria listed. It is also possible the requirement has been issued with procurement of these Japanese systems in mind.

The wheeled vehicle requirement (Viatura Blindada de Combate Anticarro – Média Sobre Rodas (VBC AC-MSR)), lists as essential the ability to carry a NATO-compatible 105mm smoothbore main gun. It is required to have basic protection from 12.7mm rounds and protection around the front 30° from what is described as “16mm piercing ammunition fired from 30 metres,” which presumably refers to the Russian 14.5mm heavy machinegun. It should also withstand a 10kg mine blast and carry an active protection system.

Both requirements set lofty standards for the potential suitors: if the Type 10 is not selected, the requirement will inspire a brand new MBT design. Furthermore, the wheeled fire support requirement dictates an 8x8 design, which rules the Brazilian/Iveco GUARANI in its current form out of the competition.

If the Japanese vehicles are not the subjects of these requirements, Brazil could become an unlikely driver for development of a new MBT and a potential competitor for European and Russian efforts.

Miles Quartermain in London for MON

The LEOPARD 1A5BR shown here is the Brazilian Army’s current MBT and is the subject of an equally ambitious upgrade requirement issued in 2020. Ultimately, it is expected to be replaced by the new MBT. (Photo: Brazilian MoD)

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