The Brazilian Army has purchased 250 German Leopard 1 A5 tanks to be deployed along 16,000km of the country’s border, under the national defence strategy (NDS) programme.

The country will start receiving the tanks within three months, with first batch to be sent to Santa Maria in the southern-most state of Rio Grande do Sul.

The tanks, which cost $500m each, weigh 42t and carry a cannon capable of firing up to 4km.

The tanks are also capable of firing on the move by using an electronic, hydraulic gyroscopic gun stabiliser. The tank is also fitted with two banks of smoke grenade dischargers on the turret to create a obscuring smoke screen.

The Leopard 1 A5 will be the backbone of the Brazilian Army and will give new dimension to Brazil’s armoured combat vehicles, according to the Juiz Fora Federal University strategic studies centre.

The $15bn NDS programme is aimed at re-equiping the Brazilian armed forces and will also include the building of the country’s first nuclear submarine with French aid, and the purchase of 24 fighter bombers for the air force.

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