Brazil’s Avibras joins Embraer and Elbit

Feb 5 (Reuters) – Brazilian defense contractor Avibras will join planemaker Embraer SA and the local unit of Israeli defense company Elbit Systems in developing unmanned aircraft in Brazil, the companies said on Tuesday.

Avibras will take a 9 percent stake in a joint venture known as Harpia Systems, which will expand its lineup to include the Falcao unmanned aircraft that Avibras has developed for Brazil’s Air Force.

“Avibras’ participation increases domestic shareholding in Harpia Systems,” Embraer’s defense chief Luiz Carlos Aguiar said in a statement, adding that the joint venture now qualifies as a strategic defense company under Brazilian law.

Embraer will hold on to its 51 percent stake in Harpia, while Elbit’s Brazilian unit AEL Systems will reduce its stake from 49 percent to 40 percent.

Harpia is one of several new defense projects Embraer has undertaken in recent years to take advantage of Brazil’s burgeoning military budget and offset the volatile sales cycle in commercial aviation.

Defense contracts will likely contribute 21 percent of the Embraer’s revenue this year, the company said on Monday, more than doubling its share in five years.