April 16, 2009: The Mexican Navy is expanding its maritime patrol fleet. It is buying a CN-235MPA maritime patrol aircraft. This two engine aircraft is a transport converted to maritime patrol use, and cost about $23 million each. The 16 ton CN-235 can carry four tons of equipment and stay in the air for about eight hours per sortie. Cruise speed is about 380 kilometers an hour. The search radar can see out to 360 kilometers, and track up to a hundred ships at once. Adding radio and communications equipment for maritime patrol work adds about $10 million to the cost of a CN-235.
Mexico already has two U.S. built E-2C radar aircraft that can also be used for naval search. There are also seven C-212PMs, an eight ton, twin engine aircraft equipped with a naval search radar. Mexico is also buying two Caravan 208Bs, a four ton, single engine aircraft equipped with high resolution optical sensors that will be better able to spot the semi-submersible boats used to smuggle cocaine.
The Mexican Air Force also has two P-22 maritime search aircraft. This is a 21 ton executive het (ERJ 145) equipped with a maritime search radar and other sensors. The air force also has four C-26s, a six ton, twin engine propeller driven transport equipped for maritime search.
Mexico is eager to exercise better control over its sea borders, in order to limit the drug and weapons smuggling.