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Manufacturing Insecurity: The Rise and Fall of Brazil's Military-Industrial Complex

Ken Conca
ISBN: 978-1-55587-695-1
1997/283 pages/LC: 96-43235

"Ken Conca has written an important and useful study on Brazil's defence industry."—Paulo Wrobel, Latin American Studies


Manufacturing Insecurity provides a sobering analysis of an extraordinary boom and bust story: Nurtured by military rule and expanding international markets, Brazil's defense sector emerged as a Third World leader in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Within a decade, a country that had been almost totally dependent on outside suppliers became a significant manufacturer for the global market in armored vehicles, military aircraft, naval craft, and short–and medium–range missiles. But by the early 1990s, many important firms were bankrupt, military R&D was virtually halted, and arms exports had slowed to a trickle. Ambitious plans to make Brazil the first Third World producer of advanced weapons systems were abandoned. The defense sector lay in ruins.

Conca explores the spectacular growth and decline of Brazil's military-industrial complex and creates a conceptual framework for analyzing Third World industrialization, emphasizing the interplay of world markets and domestic politics. Using case studies of four weapons programs, he chronicles the increasing mismatch between the political needs of the Brazilian military on the domestic front and the demands of the global economy. He demonstrates how failed adaptations to changing international markets produced in Brazil a pattern of instability, chaos, and institutional disintegration, which continues to the present day.


Ken Conca is assistant professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland at College Park, where he specializes in international relations, environmental politics, and the politics of science and technology. He is coeditor of Green Planet Blues: Environmental Politics from Stockholm to Rio and The State and Social Power in Global Environmental Politics.


  • The Puzzling Trajectory of Brazil's Defense Sector.
  • The Origins of Military Industrialization.
  • The Rise of the Modern Military-Industrial Sector.
  • Brazil in the Global Arms Economy.
  • The Domestic Politics of Military Industrialization.
  • Diverging Structures and Dilemmas of Adjustment.
  • The AM-X Tactical Fighter.
  • The VLS Program.
  • The Osório Battle Tank.
  • The Nuclear Submarine Program.
  • Institutional Tensions and the Failure to Adjust.
  • Development, Security, and Military Industrialization in the Third World.