Ecuador looks to trim Super Tucano purchase

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Ecuador intends to reduce its order for the Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano from 24 to 18 aircraft to release funds to buy 12 ex-South African Air Force Denel Cheetah C fighters.

The Ecuadorian air force recently received its sixth Super Tucano from a 2008 contract worth $270 million.

By cutting its order for the type, the defence ministry says the accrued savings would allow it to purchase the secondhand Cheetahs, and bolster the air force's flagging air defence component.

The service last year acquired six Dassault Mirage 50s donated by Venezuela, but its commander, Gen Leonardo Barreiro, says the procurement of new fighters remains of "utmost importance".

Reducing the Super Tucano buy to 18 aircraft would allow it to maintain a credible light strike force, he adds.

Separately, the Peruvian defence ministry is believed to have entered final negotiations with Embraer over the purchase of 12 Super Tucanos.

 embraer super tucano, embraer
© Embraer
Brazil's air force flies the Super Tucano as a trainer and light strike aircraft

Peru's air force has been flirting with buying the light strike aircraft since 2000, but budgetary constraints have repeatedly prevented the country from signing an order.

However, the low availability rate of its Sukhoi Su-25 ground-attack aircraft has placed a Super Tucano purchase in the fast track. Local sources say the air force has asked for the delivery of three or four airframes within six months of a contract signature to support counter-drug operations.