Colombia’s Defense Modernization


Phat Cat
Super Mod
Feb 23, 2009
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Colombia’s narco-terrorist FARC army has reportedly lost some of its military shine recently, thanks to years of unswerving pressure from the Colombian army. Much of that pressure has been led by the popular President Uribe, who has apparently ruled out a bid for constitutional amendments and an attempt at a 3rd term of office, but allowed a related referendum proposal to go forward. Delays to that proposal now appear to be solidifying Uribe’s term limit exit. Before that 2010 exit, however, a special tax levied in 2006 is set to finance about $4 billion worth of military hardware, and add stronger backing to those military gains.

Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper reports that the deals are meant to solidify and modernize the military, and will include a wide variety of equipment from American, French, German, Israeli, and Russian suppliers. Additional research has added more details, and key deliveries have now begun.

Colombia’s Modernization
Kfir C10
Kfir C10
(click to view larger)

Colombia’s navy will receive goods from France and Germany, including 60 fast patrol boats, and improved submarines. Their submarine fleet currently includes 2 U209/1200 Class boats, and a January 2009 announcement stated that ARC Pijao and ARC Tayrona would be modernized for a 3rd time using packages from HDW. These packages will be installed in Cartagena, Colombia by the state-owned shipyard COTECMAR.

Ground troops will receive 20 more 105mm artillery cannons, and Indumil’s continued local manufacture of the Israeli-designed Galil rifles that equip Colombia’s armed forces. They might be joined by 30-92 more BTR-80 armored vehicles, if negotiation problems with the Russians ever get solved. Colombia may also decide to expand its fleet using another supplier like the Ukraine, Romania, or Poland.
IqAF Caravan ISR

Cessna 208B, Iraq:
note ISR turret
(click to view full)

In the air, Colombia’s 2005 order for 25 Super Tucano counterinsurgency aircraft has already been delivered. The new planes will be joined by 15 UH-60L Black Hawks, 5 Russian Mi-17s, 12 Bell 212 “Rapaz” helicopter gunships, UAVs in unspecified numbers and types, and an array of Cessna Caravan 208B and King Air 350 aircraft that remind one of the new Iraqi Air Force’s similarly-constituted reconnaissance fleets. About 25 light aircraft will reportedly be produced in Colombia itself, for use in roles that will also include Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC).

The high end is a $160 million deal for 24 modernized Kfir C10 jet fighters with EL/M-2032 radars and upgraded weapons, plus a $40 million deal for accompanying precision-guided munitions and missiles. Of the 24, 11 are upgraded FAC Kfir C7s, and 13 are lower flight-hours models from Israeli stocks. Colombia Reports.

This modernization effort has a parallel in Colombia’s southern neighbor Brazil, but Venezuela continues to lead the region’s military modernization drive – and in many ways, to spark it.

Contracts and Key Developments
S-70 Arpia
S-70 Arpia
(click to view larger)

June 22/09: Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) delivers the first batch of upgraded C10 – C12 Kfir fighter jets to the Colombian Air Force, in a ceremony held at IAI’s facilities in Israel. IAI release.

April 28/09: Your Industry News offers a follow-up report. It doesn’t mention the June 2007 order for 15 UH-60Ls, but does add 12 S-70 Arpia III attack helicopters to the total, a model derived from the UH-60 Blackhawk:

“Arpia III is the prime attack helicopter from the Colombian Air Force. The aircraft is an indigenous Sikorsky-build UH-60 Blackhawk design with GAU-19, LAU-19, radar, FLIR, and HUD. The Arpia IV which is passing tests in Israel right now may also be considered as the new attack helicopter. This aircraft could be armed with a 20mm Chain gun, Anti-tank missiles such as Spike and Hidra [sic] rockets.”

March 3/09: Alliant Techsystems (ATK) announces a $14.4 million contract from the Colombian Air Force. They will to modify and deliver 3 MEDEVAC-capable aircraft – a HawkerBeechcraft King Air 350 and 2 Cessna 208B Grand Caravans – to Colombia’s Health and Social Services Ministry. The Ministry will use the aircraft for emergency medical evacuations of both civilian and military personnel.

The 3 planes are scheduled for delivery to Colombia by April 2009. They will be modified by ATK at its Special Mission Aircraft facility in Fort Worth, TX.

Colombia’s Defense Modernization

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