The Salvadoran Air Force (FAS) will acquire a fleet of second-hand Chilean Cessna A-37 fighters, ruling out, at least temporarily, the newer Brazilian light attack fighter Super Tucano, the most novel and optimal operating aircraft in terms of investment per flight hour.
This was confirmed by Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes during a speech at the ceremony to commemorate the 189th anniversary of the creation of the Salvadoran Armed Forces (FAES), held on May 7, and known as the ‘Day of the Soldier.’
Funes confirmed the proposal to purchase a fleet of 10-second-hand Cessna A-37 aircraft from Chile, through a loan for $8.6 million, equal to $860,000 per aircraft.
“If the loan is approved, this fleet will strengthen our Air Force, which has not been properly supported in recent decades. We are submitting this request to the honorable Legislative Assembly in due time. Congressmen and congresswomen know that the Armed Forces, particularly the Air Force, will be thankful,” Funes said during his speech at the Military School in San Salvador on May 6.
For his part, the Salvadoran Minister of National Defense, Major General Atilio Benítez, stated that he discussed the issue with his Chilean counterparts at the Central American Armed Forces Conference, which was held in Uruguay.
“We have these same aircraft and with this (the addition of Chilean equipment), we are strengthening the force; further, a stock of spare parts is included, which might be useful for some of our non-operational equipment,” Benítez stated.
The general did not rule out that this addition might balance out – though not entirely in favor of El Salvador – the difference in air power between his country and its regional neighbors, whose forces surpass Salvadoran ones.
This purchase would discard the initiative from late 2010, when Funes had also confirmed his intention to buy ten new Brazilian Embraer EMB314/A29 Súper Tucano light attack fighters for an investment valued at more than $ 100 million, and a unit price of $10 to $12 million per aircraft.