Ecuador and U.S. Military Work Together Again
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo April 11, 2019The 11th Transport Wing of the Ecuadorean Air Force (FAE, in Spanish) welcomed a delegation of the U.S. Air Force and the Kentucky National Guard at Cotopaxi Air Base in Latacunga, January 21-24, 2019. The meeting focused on Hercules C-130 and L-100-30 aircraft operations.
“The meeting facilitated the renewal of historical relations of cooperation and friendship between the military institutions of both countries,” FAE Colonel Mauricio Salazar, commander of the 11th Transport Wing, told Diálogo. “The meeting focused on exchanging technical information on defense assistance programs, publication management, training, and access to information systems of the technical coordination group.”
One of FAE’s main commitments is collaboration to counter transnational narcotrafficking. “Working again with the U.S. Air Force will strengthen [our] equipment and tools to guarantee airspace sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as reduce criminal organizations’ operations,” said Col. Salazar.
Ace up the sleeve
During the meeting, officers of both countries documented defense services and articles in new Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOA), used to consolidate agreements and contracts. The first document outlined technical order publications for FAE’s U.S.-made Hercules C-130 and L-100-30 aircraft.
The officers signed two more letters, one for tactical system repairs and another for technical maintenance. “We now have an ace up our sleeve, because when we need spare parts, we just need to activate that LOA,” FAE Major Roberto Ortega, commander of the 1121st Maintenance Squadron, told Diálogo.
Although not part of the program, U.S. service members also shared advice on engine repair and maintenance. “Maintaining aircraft, engines, and other complex systems requires technical and engineering experience, which the U.S. Air Force and the Kentucky National Guard have,” said Col. Salazar. “It’s essential to keep letters of acceptance up-to-date and strengthen bonds of camaraderie and teamwork to keep up with technical and maintenance parts areas.”
Ecuador received its first C-130 in 1977. According to information on FAE’s website, in recent years, the heavy transport aircraft has been the main resource for assistance between continental Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands during frequent cases of ship grounding caused by the region's volcanic seabed. Ecuadorean military cargo aircraft are used for transport and logistics support.
“A topic worthy of consideration was the transfer of two C-130 aircraft that Ecuador requested from the United States in 2017,” Maj. Ortega said. “FAE is interested in these two aircraft to strengthen capabilities to combat transnational organized crime and provide humanitarian assistance for communities affected by natural disasters.”
The Ecuadorean Air Force’s Aeronautics Industry Directorate (DIAF, in Spanish) showed attendees its ability to carry out main aircraft maintenance with qualified personnel in the country. “This is a beneficial point for us, because if we acquire the defense material, we have the capacity to do the main maintenance,” said Maj. Ortega.
FAE started doing maintenance procedures on more than a dozen combat and transport aircraft in May 2018. As part of the plan to boost the air fleet, DIAF carries out repairs on a C-130 Hercules aircraft.
Col. Salazar said FAE, the U.S. Air Force, and the Kentucky National Guard agreed to resume operational and technical personnel exchanges to contribute to the daily work of every force. “We settled the training aspect. In a globalized world without borders, we all depend on each other in one way or another. FAE and the U.S. Air Force are always learning.”