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Brazil Plans to Build Aircraft Carrier, Defense Minister Says

March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil plans to build an aircraft carrier with a foreign partner as part of an effort to enhance its military readiness, Defense Minister Celso Amorim told reporters today.

“The idea is for it to be built in Brazil, probably based on an existing project,” Amorim told a group of foreign correspondents. Latin America’s largest country will require a new aircraft carrier within 15 years and will modernize its existing one in the meantime, Amorim said.

Brazil has stepped up spending on military equipment in recent years as it seeks to beef up its defense mostly of natural resources, from deep-sea oil to fresh water. “We are indeed a peaceful country, but no way will we be a defenseless country,” President Dilma Rousseff said last year.

In December the government chose Saab AB over Chicago-based Boeing Co and Paris-based Dassault Aviation SA to supply 36 jet fighters worth $4.5 billion. Until these are ready, Sweden may provide older model Gripens to the Brazilian Air Force, Amorim said.

European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. is carrying out a 1.9 billion-euro ($2.6 billion) order to supply Brazil with 50 helicopters. France’s DCNS SA and Brazil’s Construtora Norberto Odebrecht SA are building five submarines in Rio de Janeiro state, costing the government 9.6 billion reais through 2015, according to Defense Ministry data. One will be nuclear powered.

To contact the reporter on this story: Raymond Colitt in Brasilia Newsroom at rcolitt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net Harry Maurer, Philip Sanders

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