The US State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Brazil of UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for an estimated cost up to $950m, according to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

In a 24 May 2024, DSCA announcement, deal saw a request from Brazil to buy 12 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, 34 T700-GE-701D engines (24 installed, ten spares), 28 EAGLE-M Embedded Global Position Systems with Inertial Navigation (EGI) or functional equivalent (24 installed, four spares), and 24 AN/ARC-231A radio systems.

Additional equipment included M-134D-H minigun systems, Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System (FRIES), EBC-406HM Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT), Aircrew Combat Equipment (ACE), Internal Auxiliary Fuel Tank System (IAFTS), and other related elements of logistics and programme support.

The DSCA said the proposed sale would “support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of an important regional partner that is a force for political stability and economic progress in South America”.

Further, the DSCA said that the proposed sale of UH-60 to Brazil would increase the country’s ability to provide troop transport, border security, medical evacuation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, search and rescue, and peacekeeping support. The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin.

Brazil emerging from defence struggles

According to GlobalData’s Brazilian Armed Forces inventory, the Brazilian Air Force operates a fleet of 16 UH-60L helicopters, acquired from Lockheed Martin between 2006-2014. Other transport and utility rotary-wing platforms in service include 18 Airbus H225Ms obtained from 2010-2018, and 24 AS350 Écureuil helicopters.

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In 2022 Brazil signed a deal with Airbus to acquire 27 H125M single-engine helicopters to replace the in-service AS350 Écureuil and Bell 206 platforms, which will be built at Airbus’ facility in Itajubá. The H125Ms will be operated by the Brazilian Air Force and Brazilian Navy.

GlobalData analysis for Brazil’s 2023 defence budget calculated a negative 4.3% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2019-2023, reaching $23.8bn for the end of the historic period.

However, with the Brazilian economy steadily recovering, it was anticipated that a greater allocation of funds will be set aside for the defence sector between 2023-2033, with the defence budget forecast to increase from $25.2bn in 2024 to $29.9bn in 2028 at a CAGR of 4.4%.