Colombia’s Defense ModernizationFeb 26, 2012 11:31 UTC by Defense Industry Daily staff
Colombia’s narco-terrorist FARC army has reportedly lost some of its military shine recently, thanks to years of unswerving pressure from the Colombian army. Much of that pressure has been led by the popular President Uribe, who has apparently ruled out a bid for constitutional amendments and an attempt at a 3rd term of office. Before his 2010 exit, however, a special tax levied in 2006 is set to finance about $4 billion worth of military hardware, and add stronger backing to those military gains.
Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper reports that the deals are meant to solidify and modernize the military, and will include a wide variety of equipment from American, French, German, Israeli, and Russian suppliers. Key deliveries have now begun.
Colombia’s navy will receive goods from France and Germany, including 60 fast patrol boats, and improved submarines. Their submarine fleet currently includes 2 U209/1200 Class boats, and a January 2009 announcement stated that ARC Pijao and ARC Tayrona would be modernized for a 3rd time using packages from HDW. These packages will be installed in Cartagena, Colombia by the state-owned shipyard COTECMAR.
Ground troops will receive 20 more 105mm artillery cannons, and Indumil’s continued local manufacture of the Israeli-designed Galil rifles that equip Colombia’s armed forces. They might be joined by 30-92 more BTR-80 armored vehicles, if negotiation problems with the Russians ever get solved. Colombia may also decide to expand its fleet using another supplier like the Ukraine, Romania, or Poland.
In the air, Colombia’s 2005 order for 25 Super Tucano counterinsurgency aircraft has already been delivered. The new planes will be joined by 15 UH-60L Black Hawks, 5 Russian Mi-17s, 12 Bell 212 “Rapaz” helicopter gunships, UAVs in unspecified numbers and types, and an array of Cessna Caravan 208B and King Air 350 aircraft that remind one of the new Iraqi Air Force’s similarly-constituted reconnaissance fleets. About 25 light aircraft will reportedly be produced in Colombia itself, for use in roles that will also include Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC).
The high end is a $160 million deal for 24 modernized Kfir C10 jet fighters with EL/M-2032 radars and upgraded weapons, plus a $40 million deal for accompanying precision-guided munitions and missiles. Of the 24, 11 are upgraded FAC Kfir C7s, and 13 are lower flight-hours models from Israeli stocks.
Contracts and Key Developments
“If and when the submarines are acquired, the [Thai] navy will have to adjust its own budget to effectively maintain the upkeep of the submarines… However, since the cabinet has not yet approved the proposals, Germany has in the meantime sold two of the submarines to Colombia. The navy now hopes to buy the remaining four for 5.5 billion baht.”
Feb 12/12: Colombia is reported to be talking to Germany about its used 550t U206A submarines, to join the navy’s 2 upgraded full-size U209 submarines, and its fleet of old mini-subs. The U206s are small, but more than enough to deal with the drug-runners’ semi-submersible boats. They also act as a potent deterrent against Venezuela, because their small size and design for shallow waters makes them an especial threat to Venezuela’s oil production. Colombia is competing with Thailand, who has also shown interest in the German boats. StrategyPage.
Dec 1/10: AAR announces that their Cargo Systems Division facility in Goldsboro, NC was selected by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to manufacture the main deck cargo loading systems for their B767-200 Multi-Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT) conversion program for Colombia. In addition to the B767-200 MMTT, AAR has supplied IAI with cargo loading systems for their B767-200 and B767-300 passenger-to-freighter conversion programs.
Sept 5/10: Israel Aerospace Industries’ Bedek unit finishes successful flight trials involving a modified second-hand 767-200ER, which it converted to a new multi-mission tanker/transport (MMTT) by adding internal modifications and IAI’s ARP3 wing air refuelling pods:
“During the first 3.5-hour flight test, the full envelope, including altitude, speed, and Mach number, was opened without any flutter or buffet problems. Additional in-flight refueling tests of a C10 Kfir fighter jet, also produced by IAI, were successfully completed.”
Sept 1/10: Colombian defense minister Rodrigo Rivera announces that the country is negotiating to join the KC-390 tactical airlifter partnership, and have signed a Declaration of Intent. They are reportedly interested in buying up to 12 planes to replace their existing fleet of 7 C-130B/H Hercules aircraft, and possibly other models in the FAC’s inventory. In return, they would join as industrial partners, via Colombian Aeronautics Industry Corp. The FAC is familiar with Brazilian aircraft, flying EMB 312 Tucanos, EMB 314 Super Tucanos, and a pair of EMB 110 Banderiante twin-turboprop light passenger/ transport planes.
The DoI was signed along with a broader set of agreements between Colombia and Brazil, covering economics, technology, environment and security. Marco Aurelio Garcia, a special adviser on Brazil’s international affairs, reportedly reaffirmed that the conflict with FARC’s narco-guerrillas was solely Colombia’s internal issue, and Brazil would become involved only if Colombia requested it. That declaration is an obstacle to efforts by FARC and its backers in countries like Venezuela, who wish to pressure Colombia by internationalizing the conflict. Aviation Week | Defense News | defpro | Flight International | China’s Xinhua || In Spanish: La Republica | Terra Colombia | Vanguardia Liberal.
Aug 5/10: The US DSCA announces Colombia’s official request to buy 9 UH-60L Black Hawk Helicopters (1 Colombian Air Force, 4 Colombian National Police, 4 Colombian Army) with associated equipment and services.
March 24/10: Sikorsky Aerospace Services announces an agreement with the Colombian Ministry of Defense to establish a Black Hawk Helicopter Training Facility at the Colombian Air Force Base in Melgar. The Training Facility will offer a full motion Black Hawk helicopter simulator to support pilot training for the Colombian Armed Services
“…as well as all Sikorsky military customers in Latin America. Structured as an offset program, the facility will be a launching point for development of Maintenance Repair and Overhaul services, spares and training center for both fixed and rotary wing aircraft.”
Dec 3/09: A $45.6 million order for 39 of Textron’s stretched M1117 ICV model wheeled armored personnel carriers. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA, with an estimated completion date of Nov 24/10. This may be a substitute for more BTR-80s.
June 22/09: Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) delivers the first batch of upgraded C10 – C12 Kfir fighter jets to the Colombian Air Force, in a ceremony held at IAI’s facilities in Israel. IAI release.
June 18/09: IAI Bedek is reportedly preparing a KC-767 tanker conversion for Colombia’s Air Force. Because IAI Bedek holds an STC for its 767-200 conversion, the refueling pods can be removed, and the plane can be flown under civilian rules to any airport in the world. AIN Online:
“In the past Bedek undertook a successful tanker conversion program for the Boeing 707, for both the Israeli Defence Force and export customers… “Why would anyone buy a new aircraft?” asked Jack Gaber. IAI North America’s v-p for business development. “This is a much more cost-effective solution.” For a tanker modification 767s are first put through the cargo conversion, allowing the aircraft to act as a trooper and cargo transport, before the tanker equipment is installed. IAI has developed a flying boom for the centerline, and has designed and manufactured its own wing pods… The first order was announced just over a year ago. Although IAI refuses to comment on customers, it has been reported that the first aircraft is destined for Colombia. The single 767-200 is currently in the early stages of the conversion process, and is scheduled for delivery to the customer in the second quarter of next year.”
April 28/09: Your Industry News offers a follow-up report. It doesn’t mention the June 2007 order for 15 UH-60Ls, but does add 12 S-70 Arpia III attack helicopters to the total, a model derived from the UH-60 Blackhawk:
“Arpia III is the prime attack helicopter from the Colombian Air Force. The aircraft is an indigenous Sikorsky-build UH-60 Blackhawk design with GAU-19, LAU-19, radar, FLIR, and HUD. The Arpia IV which is passing tests in Israel right now may also be considered as the new attack helicopter. This aircraft could be armed with a 20mm Chain gun, Anti-tank missiles such as Spike and Hidra [sic] rockets.”
March 3/09: Alliant Techsystems (ATK) announces a $14.4 million contract from the Colombian Air Force. They will to modify and deliver 3 MEDEVAC-capable aircraft – a HawkerBeechcraft King Air 350 and 2 Cessna 208B Grand Caravans – to Colombia’s Health and Social Services Ministry. The Ministry will use the aircraft for emergency medical evacuations of both civilian and military personnel.
The 3 planes are scheduled for delivery to Colombia by April 2009. They will be modified by ATK at its Special Mission Aircraft facility in Fort Worth, TX.
Additional Readings and Sources
- DID – Planes, from Spain, to Colombia’s Gain. Now 6 C295s, 6 CN235s, and 6 C212s.
- DID – Colombia Finalizes Deal for Super Tucano COIN Aircraft. 25 planes.
- DID – Stryker DVH Armored Vehicles for Colombia
- DID – M1117-ICV Armored Vehicles for Colombia
- Colombia Report (Jan 27/09) – Colombia military to get US$4 billion upgrade
- Thanks to subscriber Inigo Guevara, author of Harpia Publishing’s Latin American Fighters, for his assistance.