Brazilian aircraft carrier São Paulo
Updated: 2011-07-18 14:03
Brazilian aircraft carrier São Paulo [File photo]
São Paulo is the flagship of the Brazilian Navy. It replaced the World War II-era carrier Minas Gerais, which was in commission for over 40 years. The São Paulo is newer, bigger, faster and has greater operational capacity than its predecessor.
The former French Foch was bought to replace the aged Minas Gerais at a bargain price of $12 million USD in 2000, no aircraft included. The government had already purchased a flotilla of used A-4 Skyhawk fighters from Kuwait for US$70 million. Brazil's A-4s are capable of carrying armament including rockets, free-fall bombs and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, though the São Paulo currently serves mainly to train pilots to fly carrier operations.
Since its construction, the ship has received multiple upgrades over the years, leaving it with a diverse range of technologies. In its current form, it is expected to remain effective in its role for the foreseeable future, though further modernization efforts are expected as it is converted into a combat ready vessel. Twenty-three A-4 Skyhawk have been acquired (designated AF-1) to compose the fighter-bomber group of São Paulo, together with the existing helicopters already in the national defense inventory.