Peru and Russia are expected to sign in July a five-year military co-operation agreement primarily focused on Peru's military fixed- and rotary-wing assets. Although the deal mainly covers spares acquisition, technical assistance and sale of aircraft armament, it does include the acquisition of new helicopters.

The agreement initially calls for the immediate overhaul of Peru's fleet of Mil Mi-8T and Mi-17 helicopters and Antonov An-32Bs transports. The deal also envisages a later structural overhaul of Peru's fighters, including MiG-29S/SEs and Sukhoi Su-25s.

Corruption and inadequate planning have dogged many Peruvian procurement programmes over the past eight years and operational capabilities are significantly degraded. The problem is especially severe with Russian-built aircraft, many of which were irregularly purchased during the 1990s from sources other than the manufacturer without proper logistical support.

Under a $14 million deal, seven Mi-25 gunships and 14 Mi-17 transport helicopters were acquired from Nicaragua, but only five Mi-17s are now airworthy, while all Mi-25s are grounded owing to spares shortages. Peru's 18-strong fleet of MiG-29s is experiencing similar logistical difficulties, compounded by the generally poor state of the airframes delivered to Peru.

The initial batch were acquired from Belarus, while a further three used MiG-29SEs were acquired from Russia under a corruption-ridden $126 million deal struck in 1998 aimed at offsetting fleet attrition. Since then, abortive attempts have been made to improve operational availability for selected aircraft types, but these have stumbled due to financial constraints.

Source: Flight International