Engesa was formed as a private firm in 1963. Initially, it was involved in renovating World War II-vintage tanks. Engesa built wheeled APCs, such as the EE-11 Urutu amphibious APC, the EE-9 Cascavel armored reconnaissance vehicle, the EE-17 Sucuri tank destroyer, and the EE-3 Jararaca scout car, in addition to a wide range of other products. The EE-11 Urutu armored troop carrier is an amphibian that can also be used by naval forces. It was used by the Brazilian Army in the repression of strike movements during the government of Sarney. It made a success in the international sales market, and is in service ia at least six Armies worldwide, in addition to the Brazilian. Engesa's APCs were all based on an indigenously designed suspension system. Engesa's weapons were exported almost exclusively to the developing world, especially to countries in the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. By the mid-1980s, Engesa had expanded to a group of twelve subsidiaries and employed more than 5,000 people.
Brazil emerged as one of the leading armaments exporters in the early 1980s. The largest regional market was the Middle East, to which Brazil sold roughly half of its arms from 1977 through 1988, with nearly half of all Brazilian arms transfers from 1985 to 1989 going to Iraq. However, with the end of the Iran-Iraq war and the decline in state support, the Brazilian arms industry collapsed in the late 1980s, and by the mid-1990s had virtually disappeared. In early 1990, Brazil's two major manufacturers, Engesa and Avibrás, filed for bankruptcy. Engesa has been dismembered, with some of its companies sold to private interests, and ordnance-related firms taken over by the state and integrated with Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil (IMBEL - Industry of War Materiél).
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