Turkmenistan receives first Super Tucano counter-insurgency aircraft

Embraer Super Tucano Turkmenistan
Embraer Super Tucano takes off from Malta Airport to continue delivery flight to Turkmenistan, May 29 (Photo taken by Burmarrad 'Mark' Camenzuli - see his Flickr page).

While many media firmly believe that Turkmenistan has recently ordered the Leonardo M-346FA light attack jet, Embraer has secretly begun delivering the first Super Tucano counter-insurgency aircraft to the Turkmen Air Force.

Two Super Tucanos with registration numbers PT-ZHI and PT-ZHJ were photographed at Malta International Airport on May 28, during a leg of their delivery flight to Turkmenistan.

The two aircraft were equipped with 3 additional external fuel tanks marked 'for ferry flight only' and wore a two-tone gray camouflage. They are the same spotted in various locations in December 2020 during an alleged delivery flight to the nation.

None of the Super Tucano had military insignia, they were acquired with an 'undisclosed agreement' due to the international veto that prohibits the export and transit of weapons to countries whose governments are responsible for serious violations of human rights.

Embraer Super Tucano Turkmenistan
Embraer Super Tucano takes off from Malta Airport to continue delivery flight to Turkmenistan, May 29 (Photo taken by Burmarrad 'Mark' Camenzuli - see his Flickr page).

Although this deal is now known, it has never been confirmed by either the Brazilian manufacturer or the Turkmen government. The agreement for 6 aircraft was reportedly signed in the summer of 2019 after Embraer introduced the type to Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

This is the reason why we believe Ashgabat may not have acquired the M-346 jet as well. The M-346 can cover the same role as the Super Tucano and this overlap would make no sense considering the budget problems that have always plagued the nation.

Turkmenistan currently does not have a strong need for light attack aircraft as the country does not suffer from threats of internal insurrection, however the government is wary of Afghan militants who are invading the shared border.

In Afghanistan, the Super Tucano aircraft is operating very effectively in support of military operations to defeat the Taliban insurrection. According to Afghanistan's defense spokesperson, the turboprop aircraft is responsible for a third of all airstrikes conducted by the Afghan Air Force (AAF) in the area.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Photo Credit: Burmarrad 'Mark' Camenzuli

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