Paraguay looks to new trainer-light combat aircraft

Paraguay trainer combat aircraft
Peruvian Air Force KT-1P Torito trainer aircraft.

For some years now Paraguay has begun to consider the purchase of a new trainer/light combat aircraft. However, due to financial problems, Asunción has not yet managed to close any deals.

These delays are weighing on the Fuerza Aérea Paraguaya (FAB) which must guarantee the security of the country endangered by the rise of local guerrillas. In addition, Paraguay's airspace is widely used as a flight corridor for illegal trafficking operations, particularly in drugs. These activities are also favored by the lack of modern radars capable of covering the entire national territory.

All these factors are worrying the Paraguayan government, which has repeatedly confirmed the need to modernize the air force, especially the combat aircraft fleet, to ensure an effective defense. Currently the FAB fleet is left with a handful of Embraer EMB 312 Tucano (AT-27) aircraft to cover both trainer and fighter roles.

In recent years, Asunción has received offers from South Korea for the KT-1, from Brazil for the EMB-314 Super Tucano, from the United States for the T-6 Texan II, from Czech Republic for the L-159 Alca (second-hand) and from Russia for the YAK-130. Furthermore, the Italian aerospace company Leonardo is also interested in the LatAm area, which could offer the M-345 and M-346 jets. Neighboring Uruguay, which has very similar needs, is looking at M-346.

The nation has also received proposals from Brazil to modernize the AT-27 fleet, a process that would involve changing the wings, reinforcing the landing gear and installing a modern glass cockpit, thereby increasing the useful life of the aircraft within at least fifteen years. This would make the Tucano a modern training aircraft for front-line crews, allowing the Air Force to integrate a wider range of weapons - including intelligence devices - and turning the Tucano into an effective and cost-effective platform to perform CAS missions or airspace surveillance along the borders. However, even this project seems not to have been successful yet.

Rumors confirmed to Blog Before Flight by local sources say that the KAI KT-1 basic training continues to be at the top of Paraguay's shopping list, we assume the KA-1 trainer-attack variant. In the area, the KAI aircraft has already been sold to Peru.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Photo Credit: Minister of Defense of Peru

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