Headline — 12 April 2013 — by Adele Ramos
Guatemala to get 6 attack planes to combat narco-trafficking and deforestation

Next-door Peten included in target area

Guatemala’s military is acquiring six state-of-the-art, light attack planes from Brazil. Guatemalan officials have indicated that the planes would be used in anti-narcotics operations, as well as in efforts to combat deforestation caused by illegal logging and other unsustainable activities.

The US$133 million purchase is being financed by the Bank of Brazil. The project dates back to 2008, under the regime of Álvaro Colom.

Embraer Defense & Security, a division of Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica, S. A., a Brazilian company which provides armed forces internationally with defense and security systems and aids, announced this week the signing of the contract to implement a surveillance and protection system for the Maya Biosphere Reserve, in Petén, Guatemala, next-door to western Belize. The reserve is said to be the largest tropical forest area in Central America, covering more than 20,000 square kilometers.

The company said, “The project for ‘Constructing the Surveillance and Protection System of the Maya Biosphere’ provides for the acquisition of six A-29 Super Tucano airplanes; a command and control system; and three primary three-dimensional radars.”

It added that the order includes logistical support for the aerial operations and training for pilots and mechanics.

Guatemala is now the 6th operator of the Super Tucano in Latin America, along with Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic.

“The surveillance system for the Maya Biosphere will allow Guatemalan authorities to identify and combat points of deforestation, forest fires, illegal occupation, and illicit economic activities, like the illegal extraction of natural resources, in an area of more than 21,000 square kilometers,” Embraer said.

“The model is operating with nine air forces in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, and has surpassed 180,000 flight hours and 28,000 hours of combat,” the company added.

The Super Tucano “…is capable of carrying out a broad range of missions, including light attack, surveillance, aerial interception, and counter-insurgency,” Embraer said.

“The aircraft operates with over 130 weapons configurations and is equipped with advanced electronic, electro-optical, infra-red, and laser systems, as well as secure radio systems with data link technology and an unparalleled weapons capacity, which makes it highly reliable and gives it an excellent cost-benefit ratio for a large number of military missions, even on unpaved runways and in hostile environments,” the company further noted.

The US Air Force has also selected the A-29 Super Tucano under a USD 427 million contract for 20 Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft, according to information published by Embraer.

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