Senegal’s Air Force has ordered three A-29 Super Tucano light attack and training aircraft from Embraer, becoming the fourth African nation to order the type after Mauritania, Angola and Burkina Faso.
Embraer said the contract was signed on Wednesday, April 10, during the LAAD Defence & Security exhibition in Brazil. The event was attended by Brazilian Defence Minister Celso Amorim, Senegalese Defence Minister Augustin Tine, Brazilian Air Force Commander, Lieutenant-Brigadier Juniti Saito, and Senegalese Air Force Chief of Staff Ousmane Kane, among others.
“From the point of view of our defence strategy, this is a moment of tighter relations with the African continent and especially with Senegal,” Amorim said during the signing ceremony. Amorim also signed a letter of intent to supply Senegal with Brazilian-built navy patrol ships.
The SenegaleseA-29 order includes a training system for pilots and mechanics (TOSS) in Senegal, bringing autonomy to that country’s Air Force in preparing qualified personnel, Embraer said.
Financing will be handled by Brazil’s National Economic and Social Development Bank (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social – BNDES). “There is a credit line as part of a strategy aimed at defence,” Aguiar told journalists at LAAD in Rio de Janeiro. “It’s not so different from what you see elsewhere in the world,” he added, comparing the programme to financial guarantees on European defence exports.
Embraer said that Senegal would deploy its Super Tucanos on border surveillance and internal security missions.
“With this contract, we are adding one more customer from the African continent, where the Super Tucano has stirred great interest,” said Luiz Carlos Aguiar, President of Embraer Defense & Security. “This is a versatile and robust aircraft, with proven combat experience and it will fulfil, with excellence, the missions for which it was chosen.”
Angola received the first three of its six Super Tucanos early this year, during a handover ceremony in Brazil on January 31. Angola will use its Super Tucanos for border surveillance missions. Angola bought six new-production Tucanos plus two Embraer company demonstrators, which were delivered in 1999, followed by six more, delivered in 2004.
Burkina Faso was the first African country to take delivery of a Super Tucano, receiving three aircraft in September 2011 for border patrol missions. In October last year Mauritania received their first aircraft, featuring sensor turrets for surveillance duties, although they will also be used for counter-insurgency missions. In 2010 France began supplying Mauritania with four ex-French EMB-312F Tucanos, but one crashed and was written off in 2011 and another destroyed in a crash on March 18 this year.
Thirteen customers, worldwide, have chosen the A-29 Super Tucano. Embraer on April 9 announced it had signed a contract with Guatemala for six Super Tucanos as part of a contract for the implementation of a surveillance and protection system for the Maya Biosphere Reserve, in Guatemala, which is the largest tropical forest area in Central America.
The project includes the aircraft, a command and control system, and three primary three-dimensional radars. The order also includes logistical support for the aerial operations and training for pilots and mechanics.
The surveillance system for the Maya Biosphere will allow Guatemalan authorities to identify and combat points of deforestation, forest fires, illegal occupation, and illicit economic activities, like the illegal extraction of natural resources, in an area of more than 21,000 square kilometres. Brazil has a similar system in place for the protection of the Amazon rain forest and makes heavy use of Super Tucanos to patrol this vast area.
Super Tucanos are operating with nine air forces in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The fleet has surpassed 180 000 flight hours and 28 000 combat hours, according to Embraer. The model has over 210 orders and more than 170 units in operation.
Aguiar said that sales activity surrounding the Super Tucano has clearly accelerated since Embraer received an order from the US Air Force to supply 20 of the aircraft for counterinsurgency missions in Afghanistan. The US Air Force in March authorized Embraer to move ahead on the $428 million order despite protests from rival Beechcraft. Beechcraft’s earlier protests caused the order to be cancelled and the programme re-launched, but Embraer won it the second time around as well.
“There are new clients, countries we hadn’t even considered showing up on our radar,” said Aguiar.
Aguiar said it will take about seven months to set up a new plant in Jacksonville, Florida, for the construction of aircraft for the US contract. The first Super Tucanos should start rolling off the line four or five months later, he added.
The A-29 Super Tucano is capable of performing a broad range of missions that include light attack, aerial surveillance and interception, and counter-insurgency.
The Super Tucano is equipped with a variety of sensors and equipment, including an electo-optical/infrared system with laser designator, night vision goggles, secure communications and data-link package.
Armament comprises one .50-caliber machinegun in each wing. Five hardpoints can carry a maximum external load of 1 550 kilograms (3 420 lb). Weapons options include gun pods, bombs, rocket pods, and (on the two outboard stations) air-to-air missiles.