Ecuador’s President Rafeal Correa announced that 12 South African-built Cheetah fighter-bombers would arrive in the country this year.
As Caracol reports, when announcing the purchase Correa added that Ecuador would not permit another violation of its border, a reference to the 2008 raid by Colombia on Ecuador’s territory that killed Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) spokesman Luis Edgar Devia Silva, alias “Raul Reyes.”
Ecuador bought the planes from aerospace and defence firm Denel in 2010 as part of a broader drive to modernize the military.
InSight Crime Analysis
Correa’s announcement comes amid improving relations between Ecuador and Colombia. In December, the defense ministers of the two countries met to discuss working together against illegal mining and the smuggling of drugs and arms over their shared border.
However, the purchase of the Cheetahs was likely targeted more at deterring Colombia from another cross-border raid, rather than at carrying out counter-narcotics missions. As Correa put it in his announcement, “We will never forget the attack that occurred March 1 2008, this cannot happen again and while I am president we will not permit another Angostura.”
Ecuador already flies 18 Brazilian-made Super Tucanos, which are better suited to counter-narcotics operations, but that order was cut from 24 in order to finance an earlier purchase of Cheetahs.