Brazil Orders 34 Anti-Aircraft Tanks ahead of Pope Francis's Visit

German-made Gepard 1A2 tank - Wikimedia Commons

Brazil has ordered 34 Germany-made anti-aircraft tanks ahead of Pope Francis's visit to the country in July and also to beef up internal security for upcoming international sporting events.

The recently elected pontiff is set to arrive in Rio de Janerio to commemorate World Youth Day.

The Brazilian army has confirmed the deal with Germany but the price of the tanks is still under consideration.

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The final contract, which includes training and maintenance, is expected to be signed shortly.

General Marcio Heise, the army officer in command of anti-aircraft gallery, told G1 online news that the first set of eight tanks will be deployed in the capital in June.

The Gepard 1A2 tanks have two 35 mm guns mounted on a rotating turret.

Brazil is set to host the FIFA world cup in 2014 which will be followed by the Summer Olympics in 2016.

Brazil is keen on stepping up its domestic security over the pope's visit and the major sporting events as they could become easy terrorist targets.

The Latin American country has already sealed a deal with Moscow for purchase of medium-range missiles and artillery batteries.

Reports suggest that Brazil is also considering buying more fighter jets to strengthen its defences.

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Brazil, which has the biggest armed force in Latin America, has also been building five submarines, one of them reportedly with nuclear capability, in cooperation with France.

The country's defence budget has also been increased substantially in recent years.

Defence Minister Celso Amorim said during the LAAD Defence and Security expo that took place in Rio earlier this week: "It is very important to organise this show in Rio where major investments are made in the technological field."

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