The origin of the technological program for the manufacture of armored vehicles goes back to 1967, when the military strategy decided for the constitution of a working group composed of military engineers for nationalization of vehicle components and, subsequently, the complete manufacture of the vehicle. The first strategy visualized was concentrated replacement of engines and components imported from the Armored Car of Reconnaissance (CBR) M8 Greyhound and Armored Personnel Car-Half Caterpillar (CBTP-ML) M2.
In continuation of the Program, the Armored Vehicles Research and Development Center (CPDB), starting work for the production of the Brazilian Armored Vehicle (VBB), whose prototype built with private initiative was abandoned, since it was expected the production of a 6x6 vehicle instead of a 4x4 from the VBB project.
The next step was the development of the 6x6 vehicle, called Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle-2 (VBR-2), and, in 1970, called Car Wheel Recognition (CRR). This project had the participation of the company Specialized Engineers S/A (Engesa), showing, since its origin, the articulation with the Defense Industry and cooperation for its technological development.
Subsequently, with the introduction of specific changes in the project, the vehicle was renamed the Medium Recognition Car (CRM) and, in then, Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle (VBR) EE-9 Cascavel. The necessity of the Brazilian Navy (MB) to have an Amphibious Troop Car (CTTA) made Engesa develop a 6x6 amphibious armored vehicle capable of transporting 14 soldiers, named the Armored Personnel Transport Vehicle (VBTP) EE-11 Urutu.
The results of the Defense Industry in this period were due in largemeasured by the Public-Private Partnership (PPP), between the State andstrategic, which acted in a complementary way. This highlighted the Brazilian government's role in reducing risk in the labor market, by developing technologies beyond the reach of individual companies and facilitating the sale of Brazilian Defense Products (PRODE) abroad. Taking advantage of the state incentive, Engesa exported the EE-25 truck (2,416 units), VBR Cascavel (1,738 units) and VBTP Urutu (888 units) to 18 countries around the globe, representing more than 70% of all sales of the company throughout its history. Their products were characterized by simplicity of design and operation, robust durability, and low cost, contributing to the permanence of Brazil as the second largest arms exporter in the “Third World”, between 1981 and 1985.
The success of Cascavel and Urutu led Engesa to start, at the end of the 1970s, the study of an armored vehicle composed of a low recoil cannon, which could be coupled to a small vehicle of great strategic mobility, speed and high radius of action. Thus, the design of the Tank Destroyer Vehicle EE-17 Sucuri, which was based on the VBR Cascavel chassis. The great differential of this vehicle, the 1.10 meter increase in the distance between the axes, allowed attaching a 105 mm gun. Its reduced weight (18,500 Kg), in relation to tracked vehicles, made Sucuri the fastest tank destroyer in the world, being able to reach on roads 110 km / h, with conditions to face fighting vehciles of enemies, at short or medium distance.
Despite its potential, the use of the boomerang suspension did not obtain the same result as previous vehicles, as the Sucuri was a narrow vehicle, long and tall. In addition, the French-made FL-12 turret did not present the expected innovation, causing the overall performance of the car to be unsatisfactory.
The project had its second chance between 1986 and 1987, when it passed to being called EE-18 Sucuri (II). The new version featured the new Scania engine turbo 384 CV, which increased its top speed from 110 km/h to 115 km/h. And the boomerang suspension wsa replaced by a hydro-pneumatic suspension, which was less bulky. The company Engenheiros Especializados SA ( Engesa) developed a new turret, which attached a 105 mm cannon from the company Italian Oto-Melara. In addition, the vehicle had its profile lowered and allowed the addition of one more man in the crew of the Car (4 soldiers).
Despite these innovations, the Sucuri tank destroyer was still a prototype, possibly due to EB's lack of interest in evaluating it and theinternational preference for tracked models. In the end, the prototype was dismantled and sold as scrap metal, and its cannon was returned to Oto-Melara.
Engesa also innovated by developing the 4x4 Light Reconnaissance Vehicle EE-3 Jararaca, as one more derivative of the successful Cascavel. The conception of this new armor had as an objective to replace the old jeep as an exploration vehicle in the mechanized cavalry, given its vulnerability and total lack of armor. The Vehicle was designed to have great mobility (up to 100 Km/h), being equipped with an external machine gun (caliber 7.62 mm or. 50), four smoke grenade launchers and the provision of up to 1600 shots of 7.62mm.
The Jararaca's low silhouette and maneuverability made it a vehicle that was extremely operational for patrolling urban areas, replacing the 6x6 platform, which, at times, had limited its use in Operations Pacification, given its large dimensions. Jararaca also had the advantage of its mechanical components coming from the national automotive industry, used in trucks, which facilitated the spare parts logistics. Its engine was the traditional Mercedes-Benz OM-314A, with four cylinders in line and some of its components manufactured by Engesa itself, such as the drop box and the multiple transmission.
Despite its specifications, Jararaca was not considered the best vehicle designed by ENGESA. Its production was fully exported “tocountries such as Uruguay (16), Guinea (10), Gabon (12), Ecuador (10) and Cyprus (15) and Iraq, which would have exported around 300 units.
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