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Dominican Republic to sign Super Tucano deal

The Dominican Republic is expected to sign a contract with Brazilian manufacturer Embraer later this month for the acquisition of eight EMB-314 Super Tucano light strike aircraft, with deliveries sought from as early as December.

The Caribbean nation's air force retired its last five Cessna OA-37B strike aircraft in mid-2002, removing its only fixed-wing combat capability and restricting its effectiveness in maintaining border surveillance. The pending Super Tucano deal will enable a resumption of surveillance duties, although air force sources say the type's main missions are expected to be counter-narcotics operations against drug-running ships and aircraft.

In August 2001 the Dominican Republic was on the verge of signing a contract to acquire 10 EMB-314s plus five EMB-202 Ipanema crop-dusting aircraft, but financing arrangements fell through and the deal was placed on hold. A fresh attempt to conclude the sale was launched in February, and the nation last month succeeded in securing a financial arrangement with Brazil's BNDES state development bank.

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