A mere week after the Brazilian Army selected the Iveco-Oto Melara Centauro II fire support vehicle as its preferred solution to fulfill its long-gestating 8×8 armored cavalry vehicle requirement, the project has hit an unexpected obstacle in the form of an injunction from the country’s judicial system.
Regional press outlets report that on December 5, the Federal Regional Court of the 1st Region issued a provisional ruling suspending the announced procurement. The Brazilian Army had previously hoped to acquire 98 vehicles by 2038 and 220 in total.
The new ruling does not definitively foretell the premature end of the program, but it will nevertheless stall its progress for the time being until a more conclusive decision can be reached by the court system. With the transition to a new Brazilian presidential administration now imminent, the policy preferences of the Ministry of Defense’s leadership under the incoming administration of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will prove consequential in determining the program’s future.
It is not unusual for Brazilian defense programs to become subject to judiciary or ministerial intervention, with the conduct and context of individual programs often becoming entangled in questions of constitutionality and financial transparency. In 2020, for example, the Navy’s Tamandare corvette program ran afoul of the courts on the grounds that the institution was using irregular budgetary loopholes to secure funding for its execution. The Air Force’s purchase of two A330 MRTT aircraft was likewise subject to scrutiny amidst a trying financial environment, but this acquisition also ultimately went ahead after a period of intragovernmental negotiation.
**UPDATE 12/20/22** After the process was briefly placed on hold by an injunction from the country’s judiciary, the Brazilian Army has formally signed a contract with the Iveco-Oto Melara consortium (CIO) for the acquisition of 98 Centauro II 8×8 fire support vehicles under the aegis of its Cavalry Fighting Vehicle (VBC) program. Deliveries of the platform are to begin in 2024 and conclude circa 2028. The Brazilian Army maintains a long-term procurement objective of up to 220 vehicles in total, leaving the door open to a follow-on contract beyond 2028.