Honduras plans to modernize its fleet of Tucano aircraft with technical assistance from Brazil, where the airplanes were manufactured.
Honduras was set to buy at least four Super Tucanos from Brazil, but will put the purchase on hold until after Brazilian technicians come to Honduras to repair the older aircraft, according to El Heraldo. Honduras' Air Force includes at least 10 Tucanos, acquired in 1982 and 1983. Many are in poor condition. One became inoperable in a 2011 accident, intensifying the need for an upgraded fleet.
Military authorities have repeatedly said that Honduras is under-equipped to properly confront the increased levels of drug trafficking inside the country. The former head of Honduras' armed forces, Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, recently told La Prensa that the country cannot make progess in the "drug war" without modern radar systems.
InSight Crime Analysis
As InSight Crime has reported, Honduras' 2012 military budget has allocated few funds towards the purchase of technology needed to fight drug trafficking. The gaps have forced Honduras to solicit aid from donors like Brazil and the US.
Brazil's offer of technical assistance reflects both the country's expanding role in regional security, as well as a recognition of Honduras' increased prominence as a transit point for cocaine shipments to the US. The country's defense minister has said that 87 percent of the cocaine exported from South America to the US travels through Honduras along the way. US estimates have said that between 20 to 25 tons of cocaine travels through Honduras each month.