Embraer’s EMB 314/ A-29 Super Tucano has become the world’s leading counter-insurgency aircraft, securing customers across Latin America and into Africa and Asia. Now Guatemala looks set to join Embraer’s customer roster with an order for 6 aircraft, a command center for surveillance data, and a trio of 3D Argentinian air control radars. The country’s fleet of A-37 Dragonfly jets retains just a couple of serviceable aircraft, and the EMB-314 has been the default replacement for most Latin American air forces.
That’s certainly the case for Guatemala, which has special reasons to need that switch…
Embraer’s EMB-314/A-29 Super Tucano was born as an armed air patrol and ground surveillance project, in order to play a role in the SIVAM project that keeps watch over the huge Amazon Basin. Overwatch of the 21,602 km2 Maya Biosphere Reserve in northern Guatemala is a similar task, but the situation may be more urgent up north.
Guatemala has huge problems with narco-trafficking, as Mexican drug cartels extend their supply lines and cement their hold. The country has become a key trans-shipment point, but of course, the Mexican syndicates aren’t interested in stopping there. The usual raft of accompanying problems and violence have followed, and are becoming a broader danger to Guatemalans and to the Maya Biosphere Reserve.
The Brazilian turboprop offers a number of advantages for air forces that need to mix surveillance and attack capabilities, offering sturdy construction, the ability to use austere airfields, 12.7mm machine guns in the wings, the ability to carry precision weapons and associated targeting pods, and an advanced cockpit that lets it double as a trainer.
contracts & Key Events
April 9/13: Guatemala signs the contract for a full surveillance and protection array from Embraer, including 6 EMB-314/ A-29 Super Tucano armed turboprops, associated support and training, a set of 3 3D radars, and a command and control system to tie them all together.
Why the radars? Well, have you ever been in a Guatemalan jungle? It’s hot and relentlessly uncomfortable, and it seems that everything there is bent on hurting or eat you. That’s great for snake school & seminars, not so great as a shipping option. There will be A-29 ground targets aplenty, but for shipping, if you can fly things over a vast unpatrolled expanse, why wouldn’t you? Guatemala hopes to change that equation by removing the “unpatrolled” stipulation. That transfers the biggest weak link to “suborn the patrollers,” but it’s still an improvement.
Guatemala becomes the 6th Latin American customer for the Super Tucano (Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, and Ecuador), and the 12th country overall (add Afghanistan, Angola, Burkina Fasso, Indonesia, Mauritius, & Senegal). Embraer.
Oct 12/12: As threats within Guatemala grow, military budgets are seeing corresponding increases. The Guatemalan legislature had approved a resolution to borrow $170 million from banks in Brazil and Argentina, in order to finance the Super Tucano purchase. El Periodico | Costa Rica Star.