Stung by a cross-border raid by Colombian forces against FARC rebels on its territory last March, Ecuador has moved to accelerate many of its defence procurement programmes.

Ecuadorian sources say year-long negotiations with Embraer for 24 EMB-314 Super Tucanos have reached the final stretch, with a contract signature expected in mid-July for the Cessna A-37B light strike aircraft replacements.

The first two aircraft are expected to be delivered in December under the deal, worth around $280 million, with air crew and maintenance personnel training to start in the third quarter of this year using Embraer and Brazilian air force installations.

The air force is also to upgrade its fleet of Israel Aerospace Industries Kfir fighters, following an announcement by Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa.

With an eye on boosting its border surveillance capabilities, the air force has also been authorised to acquire six unmanned air vehicles. Correa indicates that negotiations are under way for four tactical UAVs, plus two medium-altitude, long-endurance platforms.

Plans are also in hand to bolster the army's helicopter component. Kazan won a June contract to supply three Mil Mi-171 troop transports for delivery next year, with the army holding a requirement to double this order. A new reconnaissance and light strike helicopter is also sought to replace the service's Aerospatiale SA342L Gazelles.

Source: Flight International