US to Buy Brazilian Military Planes to Use in Iraq

Super Tucano made in Brazil Embraer, a Brazilian airplane maker, is participating in preliminary negotiations to sell the US government eight 314-B1 Super Tucano light attack and training planes for use in Iraq, the company announced.

The Brazilian company also confirmed that it sold one of the propeller-driven planes to a subsidiary of Blackwater Worldwide, the world's largest security contractor and the target of harsh criticism for its conduct in Iraq.

The plane maker is offering Washington the Super Tucano in a tender process opened by the US government, according to an Embraer spokesman who declined to be named in keeping with company policy.

Embraer, or Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica SA, has sold 99 of the planes to the Brazilian military and 25 to neighboring Colombia's Air Force – mostly to fight drug trafficking along the countries' Amazon border, the spokesman said.

A light fighter like the Super Tucano, which the Brazilian military outfits with .50 caliber machine guns under each wing, could be used to patrol Iraq's borders with Iran and Syria, where the US military says militants and weapons are routinely smuggled.

The US has provided small planes before to the nascent Iraqi air force, which has about 1,500 personnel and 50 aircraft – mostly small propeller planes and helicopters.

The Embraer spokesman confirmed the sale of a Super Tucano to Blackwater subsidiary EP Aviation.

Brazilian law prohibits a private company from selling arms for use in existing conflicts, but the spokesman said the plane was not shipped with any armaments and was intended for training purposes in the US.

If the US government decides to buy the Tucano from Embraer and requests that they be outfitted with weapons, at that point the Brazilian government would have to step in and negotiate the sale, the Embraer spokesman said.

Mercopress

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