Embraer has been selected to provide an integrated airborne surveillance system for the Mexican air force, according to Mexico's foreign affairs minister, Jorge Castañeda.

Consisting primarily of EMB-145 airborne early warning and control and remote sensing versions of the regional airliner, they will be used to combat the growing drug smuggling operations along Mexico's southern borders.

The aircraft will be configured similarly to those earmarked by Brazil for its SIVAM Amazon surveillance system. In the early warning configuration, this marries the ERJ-145 with an Ericsson Erieye active phased-array radar.

Final contractual arrangements for the first part of this two-phase deal are now under way between Embraer and Mexico's defence ministry. This initial phase is reckoned to be worth around $250 million and covers the delivery of one airborne early warning aircraft, two remote sensing platforms and a ground-based command and control centre. The second part involves four aircraft.

Castañeda has also indicated that further aircraft types might be ordered from Embraer. The air force is showing interest in a number of EMB-314 ALX light strike aircraft.

Source: Flight International