18 Super Tucanos to Ecuador
In January 2009, “8 Super Tucanos to Dominican Republic” added that a 24 plane sale worth up to $280 million was also pending to Ecuador, on South America’s west-central coast. Embraer has now confirmed that sale.
The Fuerza Aerea Ecuatoriana has come into conflict with Peru over border disputes, with full-scale combat breaking out as recently as 1981 and 1995. The Brazilia treaty of 1998 has quieted that threat for now, allowing the government to focus on other missions…
Brazil’s EMB-314/AT-27 Super Tucano continues to be the aircraft of choice for Latin American air forces. Their modern trainer/ surveillance/ counterinsurgency concept is slowly replacing the brilliant but under-appreciated OA-37 Dragonfly in the region, and that is likely in Ecuador’s case as well.
The FAE’s high end fighters are Israeli Kfir C2/C10s and French Mirage F1 E/Ds, with low-end A-37B and BAC 167 Strikemaster jets flying from Manta on the central coast, and T-34C-1 Turbo-Mentor turboprops in a training and secondary light attack role.
Latin American countries have made strenuous efforts to keep their A-37 Dragonfly fleets in service, but the Vietnam-era Dragonflys are not cost-effective to modernize, and are simply running out of parts and safe flying hours. The same is true of the FAE’s Strikemasters, which have suffered from wing cracking problems.
The large, ruggedly-built Super Tucano trainers can operate from unimproved airfields. They come with a pair of M3P .50 caliber (12.7mm) machine guns in the wings, the ability to mount surveillance and targeting pods like RAFAEL and Northrop-Grumman’s popular LITENING, fire AIM-9 Sidewinder or AA-1 Piranha air-to-air missiles, and use precision ground attack weapons in place of standard COIN loads like unguided bombs, rocket pods, and gun pods. Its advanced avionics are produced by Elbit Systems’ Brazilian subsidiary Aeroelectronica (AEL). To date, orders include Brazil (99), Colombia (25), Chile (12), the Dominican Republic (8), and now Ecuador (24).
Venezuela wanted 36 Super Tucanos, but the aircraft contain American-made equipment, and so the USA intervened to bock the sale using its weapons export laws. Bolivia, which recently has its purchase of Czech L159s blocked, is also in the market. As Venezuela’s close ally, however, any Super Tucano sale would likely encounter the same obstacles.
Aug 23/10: Latin American news outlets report that Ecuador will spend $80 million to buy 9 Cheetah fighters from South Africa. To pay for it, however, Ecuador will reduce their buy of EMB 314 Super Tucano trainer and light attack turboprops from 24 to 18 aircraft. Combat Aircraft September 2010 || In Spanish: CRE Satelital | Confirmado | El Universo.
March 23/09: Embraer confirms the sale of 24 Super Tucanos to Ecuador. The contract was apparently finalized in 2008, but deals in that part of the world tend to wait for financing before full completion.
This sale adds an extensive Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) package, and an advanced Training and Operation Support System (TOSS) that includes ground support stations and a flight simulator. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in late 2009, and their listed function is surveillance and border patrol.