Amidst a sea of dignitaries, including Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and French President Emmanuel Macron, the unveiling of the Tonelero submarine at the Itaguaí Naval base on March 27 2024, heralded another milestone in the partnership between Brazil and France.

The culmination of years of collaboration between Itaguaí Construções Navais (ICN) and Naval Group, the launch of the Tonelero underscored the deepening bonds between the two nations.

The ProSub program, born out of a strategic defence cooperation agreement inked in 2008, has been instrumental in fortifying Brazil’s naval capabilities while simultaneously fostering the growth of its indigenous defence industry.

Spearheaded by Naval Group, the program has seen the successful transfer of technology, empowering Brazilian engineers and shipbuilders to construct the Tonelero entirely on home soil. This bolsters Brazil’s maritime defence strategy and positions the nation as a player on the global naval stage.

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According to GlobalData’s Brazilian defence market intelligence, the programme aims to develop and build four conventional and one nuclear-powered submarines for the Brazilian Navy and a naval base to support them. 

The Brazilian Navy reached milestones in its submarine program with the commissioning of two Scorpene-class vessels entirely constructed in Brazil. The first, Riachuelo, was unveiled in September 2022. The second vessel, Humaitá, was commissioned in January 2024.

“The launching of the Tonelero is a major milestone for the Brazilian Navy, ICN, Naval Group and all our partners. This achievement is a result of our common work to make the ProSub program and its associated technology transfer a success,” remarked Pierre Éric Pommellet, Chairman and CEO of Naval Group.  

“We are honoured by the high level of confidence the Brazilian Navy has placed in our expertise, and we remain fully committed to supporting the needs of the Brazilian Navy and contributing to the development a strong Brazilian naval industry.” 

With a share of 35.9%, Brazil accounts for the largest market for submarines in the Latin American region over the forecast period, according to GlobalData’s “The Global Submarine Market 2023-2033” report. 

As the Tonelero embarks on its sea trials, with delivery expected for 2025, the launch event serves as a reminder of the enduring bonds forged between Brazil and France. Beyond the confines of naval defence, it symbolises a shared commitment to progress and collective security.