In preparation for the World Cup and the Olympics, that will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has signed a US$ 350 million contract with Israel Aerospace Industries this week to get drones to the Brazilian police – the largest such deal ever between Israel and Brazil.
The contract was signed during President Shimon Peres' state visit to Brazil, but negotiations began months ago.
The deal will be implemented in several phases. The first, which will be completed within a year, will include the transfer of three unmanned aerial vehicles along with accompanying equipment, including a base station and control and inspection systems. The second phase allows Brazil to purchase 11 additional drones.
The drones in question are the latest model developed by IAI, and have been sold to other countries as well. However, this will be the model's first use by a police force.
Brazil intends to use the drones to monitor its borders, which are approximately 17,000 kilometers long, and to prevent arms smuggling. The drones will also increase security in Brazil prior to the World Cup games in 2014 and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
IAI has stepped up its operations in Brazil over the past year. About six months ago, it established a joint venture with the Synergy Group, whose operations include unmanned aerial vehicles, advanced systems, radar and antimissile systems.
About three months ago, IAI conducted a successful test of its Heron UAV for the Brazilian federal police, for use in missions to fight drug trafficking and the theft of natural resources.
A few weeks ago drug gangs operating in Rio do Janeiro's favelas (shantytowns) managed to shoot down with a short range rocket a police helicopter killing some crew members.
Since then the government has reinforced with several rings of Army units borders with Paraguay and Bolivia, where most of the illegal weapons used by the drug and criminal gangs come from, including military equipment such as heavy machine guns and the short range missiles.
Lula Justifies Iran Leader's Visit
Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva justified the scheduled visit of Iran's president in two weeks time and offered to mediate in the Middle East conflict between Israel and Palestine. Lula rejected criticism over the upcoming visit of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, slated for November 23, standing next to visiting Israeli president Shimon Peres.
"You don't build the necessary peace in the Middle East if you don't talk to all the political and religious forces that both want peace and are opposed to peace", Lula da Silva told journalists during a joint press conference with Shimon Peres in Brazilian capital Brasília.
"We don't have a veto to talk with whoever it is, since from a conversation you can extract a word or a dash from which to build peace, because if not the peace process becomes a club of good friends," argued Lula.
Peres had a weeklong agenda in Brazil, which included meetings with government officials and businessmen. Peres also gave a historic speech in Brazil's Congress about the political, economical and cultural ties between Israel and Brazil.
"I don't want to discuss Iran here on Brazilian soil. But I can't ignore the fact that their government is developing nuclear weapons and wants to destroy Israel," Peres said.
The first Israeli president to visit Brazil in 40 years, Peres was granted the title of honorary citizen of Brasília.
Peres next stop is Argentina where no Israeli head of state has set foot in twenty years.