LIMA, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Peru is continuing a steady build up of its defense infrastructure with a $135 million deal for the deployment of two C-37J battlefield airlifter tactical aircraft from Italian aerospace firm Alenia Aermacchi.
The deal follows an earlier purchase of four Eurocopter EC145 helicopters by Peruvian national police.
Last month Peru welcomed a high-powered Russian military delegation to Lima for discussion on a wide-ranging defense industry collaboration deal, including a Russian service and supply center in the capital. Details of the talks were not discussed in the Peruvian media.
Russia is following up its recent arms deals in the Middle East with similar aims in Latin America as part of a wider effort to secure a share of the region's growing demand for arms and armor, defense technology transfers and joint production.
Alenia Aermacchi said the two C-27J tactical transport aircraft were selected by the Peruvian air force after a three-year Ministry of Defense selection procedure, and the contract will be signed "as soon as administrative procedures are completed."
During tests, the aircraft undertook troop and civilian transport, materials and medicine transport, medevac operations, airdrops, search and rescue, humanitarian, homeland security and civil protection missions, Defense News reported.
About 74 of the C-27J have been ordered worldwide, including in the United States. So far Mexico is the only other Latin American buyer of the aircraft.
Alenia Aermacchi named among other customers Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania, Morocco, Romania, Australia and an undisclosed African country. The aircraft has also been selected by Slovakia and the contract is under negotiation, said Alenia Aermacchi.
It said the C-27J was selected by Peru due to its "proven operational flexibility at competitive costs."
C-27J is the only aircraft in its class interoperable with heavier airlifters already in service in Peru, the company said.
Alenia Aermacchi, a unit of Italy's Finmeccanica, has headquarters in Venegono Superiore, Varese, but also maintains offices on the property of Turin Caselle airport in San Maurizio Canavese, Turin and Pomigliano d'Arco, in Naples.
Alenia Aermacchi was created Jan. 1 2012 after the merger of Alenia Aeronautica and subsidiaries (Alenia) Aermacchi and Alenia SIA. The former Alenia Aeronautica was created in 1990 by concentrating the Finmeccanica aerospace and defense industries Aeritalia and Selenia. The company has outlined its intention to compete in the Western Hemisphere with U.S., Canadian and Brazilian aerospace suppliers.
Earlier in November Peru's National Police received the first of four twin-engine Eurocopter EC145 helicopters under a contract signed in 2012.
The EC145 has a range of 370 nautical miles and a cruise speed of 153 miles per hour. The aircraft delivered to Peru features a public address system, a siren and multi-frequency radio.
Eurocopter said one of the four helicopters ordered will also be equipped with an infrared camera for transmitting live images to a command center or ground unit.
Peru purchased the aircraft as part of a National Police modernization program which is focused on anti-narcotics operations.
"This country regards the modernization of our police aviation capabilities as a priority, and I am proud to be able to equip our police with a helicopter that has proved its effectiveness with police forces around the world," Peru Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said at a handover ceremony in Lima.
Remaining aircraft on order are scheduled to be delivered in 2015, Eurocopter said.
The EC145 is operated by police forces in 26 countries, including Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil.