January 14, 2009:
The Dominican Republic has bought eight Brazilian Super Tucano warplanes. Last year, Chile ordered twelve and Ecuador ordered 24.
The Super Tucano is a five ton, single engine, single seat aircraft. It is basically a prop driven trainer that can be equipped for combat missions. The aircraft can carry up to 1.5 tons of weapons, including 12.7mm machine-guns, bombs and missiles. The aircraft cruises at about 500 kilometers an hour and can stay in the air for about 6.5 hours per sortie.
Colombia is already using Super Tucanos for counter-insurgency work The aircraft is also used for border patrol. The Super Tucano costs $9 million each, and come in one or two seat versions. The bubble canopy provides excellent visibility. This, coupled with its slow speed (versus jets), makes it an excellent ground attack aircraft.
The Dominican Republic will use its Super Tucanos for internal security and border patrol (mainly looking for drug smugglers). This purchase will be a big boost in Dominican air power. Currently all that's a available are a few elderly T-35B trainers.
So far, 144 Super Turcanos have been ordered (including 25 by Colombia and 63 by the Brazilian Air Force) since it entered service six years ago. The aircraft is an upgraded version of the older Tucano, which entered service 26 years ago. There are about 650 of these in service in 15 air forces.