Big Bang Ricochet 036: Brazil's Osorio MBT

Reference - Military Vehicles
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Designed as an inexpensive alternative to vehicles like the M1 Abrams, Leopard 2, Challenger 2, and LeClerc, the Osorio was a huge gamble for the Brazilian military-industrial complex. Brazilian manufacturer ENGESA, flush with funds thanks to supplying arms to both sides of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980's, looked to profit from even more nations in the oil-rich Middle East. Spending $100 million over three years, the Osorio was built to meet Brazilian tank requirements as well as Saudi Arabian requirements.

By 1987, the tank was in trials in the Saudi desert, where it proceeded to outperform its first world competition. Though easily ranked as one of the top five western tanks of the Cold War era, the gamble failed to pay off, as the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait lead to the collapse of multiple international orders for the tank totalling in excess of 800 vehicles. ENGESA slid into bankruptcy and ceased operations by 1993.

The current military operations in Iraq have lead to a renewed interest in this tank, a sub-$1 million armored fighting vehicle than can easily compete with a beat other AFVs that cost five to eight times the price. This has lead to the rumor the current holder of the design, IMBEL, may resume efforts to market the tank.


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