Embraer, Elbit UAS Venture Welcomes New Shareholder

 - February 15, 2013, 11:22 AM
Harpia Systems, the joint venture of Embraer and Elbit's Brazilian subsidiary, will now offer the Avibras Falcon as part of its product line. (Courtesy: Embraer)

Embraer Defense and Security and AEL Systems, the Brazilian subsidiary of Israel’s Elbit Systems, signed an agreement to accept unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) developer Avibras as a shareholder in their UAS-focused joint venture, Harpia Systems. As a result of the transaction, which increases domestic ownership of the joint venture, Harpia will offer as part of its product line the Avibras Falcão (Falcon) UAS being developed for the Brazilian air force.

The principals announced the agreement to incorporate Avibras shares on February 5. A Brazilian engineering company, Avibras now holds a 9 percent share in Harpia; AEL’s share has been reduced from 49 percent to 40 percent. Embraer remains the majority shareholder with 51 percent ownership. “Avibras’ participation increases domestic shareholding in Harpia Systems, which will now meet all requirements of a strategic defense company, in accordance with Law 12.598,” said Luiz Carlos Aguiar, Embraer Defense president. “In addition, Avibras will bring additional technical competence to Harpia.”

The Falcão is an 800-kilo (1,764 pound) class UAS constructed of carbon fiber and intended for tactical surveillance and reconnaissance. The aircraft will be fitted with an electro-optical sensor, a ground mobile target detection radar and satellite communications link. Its flight endurance will be more than 15 hours, with an operational range up to 1,500 km (932 miles), according to Infodefensa. Last spring, Avibras was completing the final assembly of a Falcão prototype, the news service reported. The program is supported by the Brazilian National Research and Projects Financing Agency and the Ministry of Science and Technology, according to Avibras.

AEL Systems became a subsidiary of Elbit in 2001. In 2011, AEL won a contract to supply Elbit’s Hermes 450 UAS to the Brazilian air force. That year, Embraer and AEL formed the Harpia Systems joint venture, which is majority owned by Embraer, to focus on domestic UAS development. Embraer also acquired a 25 percent share in AEL.