SAO PAULO — Brazilian and Saudi defense companies have signed a memorandum of understanding that could lead to joint ventures and technology-sharing agreements.
The Saudi businesses involved in the potential effort are Scopa Defense and Alqahtani Holding, and the Brazilian firms are weapon manufacturer Taurus, rocket and missile maker Avibras, aircraft battery producer Ocellott, and aviation specialist Avionics Services, according to the Brazilian industry association FIESP.
The signing took place last week during a bilateral investment forum attended by a Saudi delegation to Brazil led by Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih. The meeting, held in São Paulo by FIESP, also included the vice president of Brazil and the governor of São Paulo.
The Saudi minister mentioned Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer in a speech during the event, but no agreement involving the company has been disclosed. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
Under an agreement with Taurus, a new weapons factory could be built in Saudi Arabia following a study on the matter, the company said in a news release. The Brazilian firm already has two local arms factories and one in the United States.
“The choice of Saudi Arabia is aligned with the company’s expansion plan in the Middle East. We understand that the region is interested in technology transfer for the manufacturing of light weapons,” Taurus said in a statement.
The companies have a 12-month period to evaluate the implementation of a new plant.
Scopa, which is a part of Ajlan and Bros Holding Group, made an agreement with Avibras to “manufacture and develop advanced defense equipment,” according to the former, which did not disclose further information about the products and potential contract values involved.
This deal could provide relief to Avibras, which has been under judicial recovery since March 2022 after it claimed to have a debt of 394.76 million reals (U.S. $80.48 million). Under this process, the court may aim to recover debts.
Two other agreements involved Alqahtani Holding, per company statements. One is a joint venture with Ocellott, founded in 2015 and specializing in aeronautical batteries, radiofrequency filters and electrical surge suppressors. It’s unclear what the arrangement involves.
The other is with Avionics Services. The Brazilian firm provides radars and equipment for aircraft, including to Embraer for the Legacy series as well as the Phenom 100 and 300 jets. The company is currently testing a drone. Details of this agreement were also not disclosed.
For Saudi Arabia, these agreements are part of a larger strategy, dubbed Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to reduce the kingdom’s dependence on the oil trade through global investments in other sectors.
Pedro Pligher is a Latin America correspondent for Defense News. He has reported on politics, economics and the Brazilian small arms industry.