FT Sistemas sees promising overseas market for drones
"We believe external demand is very promising. We want to increase our presence in countries where Brazil exerts strategic political and economic influence, ones that are not traditional export destinations," said company's chairman Nei Brasil.
The idea is to avoid markets such as the United States, Israel and a few European countries that have mastered this technology and are direct competitors in the industry.
Partnerships with government are key to commercial promotion in this industry, since many of the potential clients are governments. The executive noted that the company is accredited as a Strategic Defence Enterprise by the Brazilian Ministry of Defence, which entitles it to fiscal incentives.
This proximity with government, especially the Armed Forces, also warrants eventual referrals to international partners of Brazil’s, as was the case with the African country which purchased three Horus FT-100 drones, a light unit deployable for military or civil purposes involving mapping and surveillance. The order, according to the executive, reached the company via the Brazilian government.
The system is fully endowed with "communication links," meaning that in addition to being remotely controlled, it sends the operator telemetry data and real-time videos. The entire equipment can be carried on foot by one soldier.
In addition to defence and security applications such as perimeter surveillance, target recognition and identification, the executive noted that the drone can be used for agriculture, mineral exploration, environmental surveillance, civil defence, monitoring and other activities.
FT Sistemas was founded in 2005 by postgraduate students at the Technological Institute of Aeronautics (ITA), together with Mr. Brasil, and from the start it has worked in tandem with the Armed Forces to develop drone technology, then largely unexplored in Brazil.
Products are being adopted by the Brazilian military. In addition to the Horus FT-100, the company has developed larger models in partnership with the navy and army. The drones can be customized to client specifications. A custom-made Horus FT-100 sells for around $1 million.
FT Sistemas is a small business, with 20 employees, and handles design and integration; parts manufacturing is outsourced. The Sao Jose dos Campos area is the premier aerospace industry hub in Brazil. ■