Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil Share Information about Unauthorized Flights

Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil Share Information about Unauthorized Flights

By Carlos Maggi/Diálogo
August 22, 2017

Air travel is fast and dynamic, meaning that response times are very important – even more so for unauthorized flights. That is why the Uruguayan, Argentine, and Brazilian air forces are working together under the framework of agreements signed by each nation, to allow them to exchange information about detected unauthorized flights, in order to activate the established procedures for their identification and interception. The three nations have conducted various exercises enabling them to optimize their mechanisms of locating illicit flights detected by radar, relay the information, and ultimately intercept them. It is important to note that, according to statistics, there are a number of unauthorized flights entering Brazil from Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, and Peru, meaning that a state of alert must be maintained practically every day. “This is a very important issue for us. We know that Brazil has a shoot-down law that Argentina and Uruguay lack, so relaying information about unauthorized or possibly illegal flights is vital for our nation,” Uruguayan Minister of Defense Jorge Menéndez told Diálogo. “We’re doing that by conducting exercises: URUBRA with Brazil, and RIO with Argentina. Their implementation allows us to be with partner nations that are up to speed on what can happen.” The authorities are worried about the development of transnational unauthorized flights, since they originate in one country and use another country as the epicenter for their illegal activities, such as drugs, arms, and human trafficking. Detecting such flights in sufficient time and relaying the information allows for a greater response capability, which is why the agreements are still in full force and the near-term possibility of once again developing training exercises is being studied. Uruguay has fixed and mobile 3D radars that it uses for nationwide coverage of its airspace, but in order to optimize the system, it needs an interceptor that can accommodate to the required response time since its fleet is made up of A-37B and PC-7U aircraft. “In a military system, the human element is key. It’s something that we can be proud of in Uruguay because there is very good training for our officers and airmen to fulfill all of the Air Force’s missions,” Menéndez said. “Radars have been added, and they’re working quite well. Our command and control center is a source of national pride. We still have some very old interceptors and we’re working towards getting to the point where we can make some acquisitions, which is an objective of the Ministry of Defense,” he explained. The importance of cooperation with American air forces In addition to the agreements for transferring information about unauthorized flights between the three nations, the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces (SICOFAA, per its Spanish acronym) promotes exchanges of experience, knowledge, and training, which allows the armed forces to bolster their capacities, transforming them into an efficient organization for cooperation and mutual support. “Achieving favorable results for our people, as the American air forces do, has allowed us to meet the call of duty, for example, when the natural disasters in Ecuador and Peru happened, or the forest fires in Chile, and in any other place where our high command orders us to respond rapidly, flexibly, and efficiently,” said General Alberto Zanelli, the commander in chief of the Uruguayan Air Force. Through the cooperation that exists within the framework of SICOFAA, the intent is to coordinate operations to relieve the suffering of thousands of people in partner nations impacted by natural disasters. “These kinds of exercises allow us to check our level of training and doctrine to see what we need to do to successfully carry out our assigned mission, and what our capacity for interoperability is – where our planes will be able to use the Air Force’s ground-based support equipment, and where we can refuel,” Gen. Zanelli said. “All of the crews are going to be speaking the same operational language, and each of us will do our part to deliver solutions for these urgent needs.”
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