By David Oliver
United Kingdom Government and British Defence Industry sources has made it clear to EDR On-Line that their main focus in the South and Central American region remains the promotion of British industries defence products and capabilities.
South America is still an important market for the UK, countries such as Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico remaining a priority.
In the recent past the UK has been very active in Brazil with the sale of HMS Ocean to the Brazilian Navy, the Amazonas-class OPVs built by BAE Systems, and MBDA CAMM missile systems selected for the new Tamandaré-class frigates. The UK also supports Saab with the Brazilian Air Force Gripen programme, 35 percent of which is UK industry content.
Britain also maintains a long relationship with the Chilean Navy, which operates former RN Type 23 frigates. The Chilean armed forces have an aspiration to be integrated with NATO. Although the country has cut its budgets, the UK has not withdrawn from supporting it and will continue to maintain an enduring partnership with Chile.
Regarding other markets in the region, Mexico remains a challenging market with its approach to technology and robust procurement policies. They recognise the UK’s governance and high business standards.
Although competition in the region is still strong, from the United States in particular, the UK is identifying opportunities across the maritime, air and lands sectors. Export Finance is an important dimension to offer money at low rates for equipment purchase. Security is another key area as countries wish to protect their airports, ports and critical national infrastructure, and cyber is also a growing sector of which UK has an important offer to make based on many years of counter terrorist challenges.
The UK recognises Colombia’s importance as it continues to modernise its armed forces, and the navy in particular. It is important that the UK share lessons from its own maritime modernisation programmes to help Colombia reduce risks. The UK government and industries are also keen to support Colombia with its security challenges and border protection.
It also expected from the UK Industry to make a compelling case for Type 31e export sales in all markets in the region, exploiting its low initial cost and the modular adaptability and flexible construction of the design. This includes the design, systems, equipment, support and training, as well as “whole” ship sales.
The UK government and British Industries recognise that the countries in the region are looking for more than just the purchase of a platform: they are aiming at a package of through life support that includes training and MRO, the provisions of upgraded sub systems, as well as the all important items of technology transfer and finance. If there is 30 percent of more of UK content in any acquisition, a financial package can be negotiated. A key element in a very competitive market sector.