August 26, 2009:
After over a year of negotiations, Brazil and France have nailed down an agreement that will give Brazil four French diesel-electric Scorpene submarines, and technology from France to enable the construction of, in effect, a fifth, nuclear powered, "Scorpene". This is described as a strategic defense alliance, which involves France helping build demand for French weapons in Brazil. In return, with French help, Brazil will complete development a nuclear power plant small enough to fit into something like the new, 4,700 ton French Barracuda nuclear attack subs. France considers the 100 meter long Barracuda an evolution of the 66.4 meter long Scorpene. At least this is how it was explained to the Brazilians. The 1,400 ton Scorpene subs cost $600 million each, while the new French Barracuda nuclear powered subs cost $1.6 billion each.
All five subs will be assembled in Brazil, using components imported from France. Some of the components will be manufactured in Brazil as well. France will also help Brazil install the Brazilian designed nuclear power plant in a new sub design. France also wants to develop another major export customer for its weapons, and is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to accomplish this. France is particularly eager to sell Brazil Rafale jet fighters. The submarines, 50 Cougar helicopters, technical assistance and technology transfer is believed to be costing Brazil over $10 billion.
Brazil says it is will to spend all this to improve its fleet, in large part because oil has been discovered off the coast of Brazil, and must be defended.