NEWTOWN, Conn. --- While defense spending in Latin America is not as high as it is in other regions, growth is expected to continue to be strong between 2017 and 2021. Economies are expected to slowly improve after years of commodity price declines, giving governments more access to money to spend on defense. At the same time, governments will continue to battle violent gangs and illegal trafficking.
During that time, defense spending will be dominated by eight countries. Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, Cuba, and Chile will account for a combined 92 percent of the total market in the region.
A brief discussion of defense budgets in these countries follows.
Although Brazil is currently suffering from a severe recession and political scandals, its size and economy make it the leader in Latin American defense spending. Major programs in the country include upgrading its fighter aircraft fleet and its tactical vehicle fleet, including infantry fighting vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles, and troop transports.
Although Colombia's government recently reached a major peace deal with FARC, the country will continue to spend money on defense as it battles other insurgent groups and maintains international commitments. Spending will be focused on mobility equipment such as helicopters and troop transports.
Mexican defense spending increased rapidly between 2012 and 2014 to combat drug cartels and gangs. The country is expected to continue spending at high levels as it battles these groups. Funding will be used to purchase surveillance equipment, helicopters, troop transports, and patrol boats.
As President Nicolas Maduro's support has waned, he has increased spending on the military as a way to boost its support. The military has also been given a larger role in society, taking control of oil production, for example.
Even as President Mauricio Macri attempts to reduce overall government spending, Argentina will remain the fifth largest spender on defense in Latin America. Spending priorities include purchasing a supersonic jet fighter to replace Mirage jets retired in 2015.
National sovereignty, border security, and protection against insurgents will drive spending in Peru. A steadily growing economy will also support increased defense spending. Much of the focus of procurement will be on surveillance systems, such as radar and vehicles.
Cuba is undergoing some major changes, including a warming of relations with the U.S., along with minor economic reforms. Still, the military will continue to play a major role in society. Specific procurements are unknown, due to the secretive nature of the government.
Chile does not face as many threats as its neighbors from drug cartels, gangs, and insurgents. However, the country's strong economy will enable steady growth in defense spending.