Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Blackwater Buying Counter-Insurgency Aircraft

Uh, oh. Blackwater, the merc outfit private security contractor that some people seem to love to hate, is in the market for an attack aircraft, a likely prelude to offering foreign air forces training in counter-insurgency operations. Jane's Defence Weekly reporter Nathan Hodge (and husband of DANGER ROOM contributor) has an exclusive story (sorry, subscription only) on Blackwater's plans to purchase an Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano trainer/light attack aircraft:


Blackwater President Gary Jackson confirmed to Jane's at the Force Protection Equipment Demonstration in Stafford, Virginia, in mid-August that the company is in the process of acquiring the Super Tucano for a new training programme. Transfer of the aircraft to the US is still subject to US government approval and Blackwater would offer no further comment on the transaction or the planned training programme.

If the deal goes through, it will give the company a significant boost in a growing international market for fixed-wing tactical flight instruction, as well as a potential platform for counter-insurgency-style training.

The Super Tucano is in service with the Brazilian Air Force, which operates the aircraft as a primary aircraft trainer and in border-patrol missions under its SIVAM (Sistema de Vigilância da Amazônia) programme. Colombia finalised a contract for 25 Super Tucanos in December 2005; the aircraft has also been marketed to Singapore and the Dominican Republic. Fully equipped, the aircraft features five weapon hardpoints and a night-vision goggle (NVG)-compatible 'glass cockpit'. In military service, it is used for basic and advanced pilot training as well as for precision weapons delivery.

It's not a surprise that Blackwater is getting into this game, given that counter-insurgency aircraft are making a big comeback. But it's still a rather significant precedent to have a private company in the U.S. buy (let alone import) offer training services on an attack aircraft.


Cirby and Kle correctly note that there are plenty of examples of private purchase and/or import of fighters, and Demophilus notes that even private training on attack aircraft isn't precedent setting either. Ah well, let's leave it at: an interesting move for Blackwater.


No, not "Ah well"... We will not leave this as an "interesting move", but in fact, it's another reason this corp must be shut down! Blackwater is a threat to all Americans!! They are corporate terrorists for hire!! If you have the money, you can hire Blackwater to kill anyone you like. Now, they can drop a bomb on anyone they like!!

Here's Bush on the subject of "private contractors" aka corporate military for hire.

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