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The four-corvette TAMANDARÉ program of the Brazilian Navy is awarded to thyssenkrupp Marine Systems. On March 5 Emgepron and the Águas Azuis consortium signed the contract in Rio de Janeiro. Emgepron (Empresa Gerencial de Projetos Navais) is a state owned company linked to the Ministry of Defence of Brazil through the Command of the Navy. Following its web presentation, Emgepon’s activities embrace a technological spectrum that comprehends the projects of interest to the Brazilian Navy. Besides rendering management services to such projects, contracted by the Brazilian Navy, the company also provides commercialization of products and services made available by naval sector of the national defense industry. These include warships and military crafts (design, construction and modernization), naval repair, shipborne combat systems, artillery ammunition, oceanographic services, logistic support and personnel training, among other items.

In the context of TAMANDARÉ, Emgeporn was tasked by the Ministry of Defence to draw up the contract. Águas Azuis is a joint venture of thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, Embraer Defense & Security and Atech.

Already announced on March 27, 2019 that the Águas Azuis (translated: Blue Waters) consortium had been selected as preferred bidder. The Brazilian-German consortium with Embraer Defense & Security, Atech and tkMS, including its German subsidiary ATLAS Elektronik, was able to prevail against the Dutch Damen, the Italian Fincantieri and the French Naval Group. Estaleiro Aliança SA and L3 MAPPS are further subcontractors.

The contract should have been signed earlier. However, domestic hurdles were to overcome. For example, a petition by a trade union which asserted the interests of workers in northeastern Brazil who felt disadvantaged in the negotiated workshare had to be settled. The bidding/awarding procedure was also the subject of scrutiny. And, of course, on top of all that, the financing was delayed. December 13, 2019, President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree allowing finally a loan for funding the project, which is worth about 9 billion Real (about €1.79 billion) (Brazilian data).

The contract also includes life cycle management, after-sales service, so to speak. The Brazilian Navy expects this to increase the availability of the units.

Delivery of the ships is scheduled to take place from 2024 to 2028 (although there is a discrepancy of one year between the figures of tkMS and the Brazilian Navy: tkMS specifies 2025 as the first delivery date. The reason may be the difference between ‘first ship delivered’ and ‘first ship in service’). Construction is scheduled to start twelve months after signing the contract – thus we have to expect March 2021.

According to a press release by tkMS, the ships will be built 100 percent locally in Itajaí (Oceana shipyard), in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil. The local share will be over 30% for the first ship and 40% for the other ships (Brazilian sources estimate 31.6% vs 41%).

In addition to the construction in Itajaí, the contract, according to tkMS, includes technology transfer in the areas of ship technology, combat and platform management systems, as well as support in logistics and ship life cycle management. Brazilian authorities estimate that 1,000 direct and 4,000 indirect jobs will be created. It is hoped that a dual naval cluster (military and civil) will be created in Itajaí.

The corvettes will later be used for surveillance tasks and search and rescue operations in Brazil’s exclusive economic zone, which extends far into the Atlantic Ocean (4.5 million square kilometres).

With a length of 107.2 metres, 15.95 metres width, 5.2 metres draught, the corvettes displace 3,455 tons. Propulsion: four MAN 12V 28/33D STC diesel engines, each with an output of six MW. The cruising speed is stated as 14 knots (26 km/h). Four Caterpillar C32 diesel generators (one MW each) provide the electrical power.

The sensor equipment includes the Artisan 3D radar from BAE Systems, a surface radar (S-band) and a navigation radar (x-band) from Raytheon, the fire control radar STIR 1.2 EO Mk2 from Thales, the electro-optical vision and fire control system Paseo XLR from Safran and the hull sonar ASO 713 from ATLAS Elektronik.

The armament is a mix of cannons and missiles. Artillery: 76/62 mm from Leonardo and 40 Mk 4 from Bofors. Missiles: Exocet MM40 B1/B3 and Sea Ceptor (CAMM) from MBDA Systems. SEA’s TLS-TT torpedo launcher and the Sea DeFnder remote-controlled weapon station with 12.7 mm heavy machine gun for close-range defence by FN Herstal. C-Guard decoy system from Terma.

TAMANDARÉ is based on the MEKO class concept from thyssenkrupp Marine Systems. Since 1982, 82 corvettes and frigates of the MEKO class have been delivered to navies from 15 different nations (data from tkMS). A large number of the MEKO have been built outside Germany.

Hans Uwe Mergener