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Indonesia considers more Embraer Tucanos

JAKARTA, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Indonesia could double its order for eight Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano light attack turboprops, an air force official said.

The first of the eight aircraft will arrive in 2012 and includes ground-support stations and a logistics package.

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The firm order for the eight, announced earlier this month, was the first for the Super Tucano in the Asia-Pacific region, but more could follow.

"Air force headquarters has decided to replace our Rockwell OV-10 Broncos with as many as 16 Super Tucanos," Indonesian air force operational commander Yushan Sayuti said.

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Embraer won the deal over Korea Aerospace Industries KT-1, of which 11 are being used as trainers with Indonesia's air force. A 12th aircraft crashed at Bali Airport in June but the pilot and trainee-pilot ejected safely.

The KT-1 is a South Korean single-engine turboprop, basic training aircraft. It was developed by KAI and the Agency for Defense Development as the first completely indigenous South Korean aircraft. It first flew in 1991 but wasn't until some years later that it was inducted into the South Korean air force, which remains the aircraft's primary user with around 80 units.

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Turkey operates around 40 of the KT-1, with an option to buy 15 more.

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Indonesia urgently needs the Super Tucano because it is believed to have grounded at least 10 of its 12 aging OV-10F versions of the Bronco, a plane that first flew in 1965.

"The Super Tucano has been chosen to replace the Broncos because of its flexibility to perform a broad range of missions, including light attack, surveillance, air-to-air interception and counter insurgency," Embraer said in a written statement.

Indonesia's Broncos served in many surveillance and light attack roles, especially during the country's 1975 foray into neighboring East Timor, and which is now independent Timor Leste. Broncos also were used for bombardment during civil disruptions around the large mining operations of Freeport-McMoRan in the country's West Papua region.

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Indonesia's versions of the Bronco are fitted with 12.7 mm Browning heavy machine guns in place of the lighter 7.62 mm machine guns favored by the U.S Navy.

At the Singapore Air Show in February, Boeing, which acquired the aerospace and defense units of Rockwell in 1996, said export interest for the Bronco was still high. Boeing said it would go on with its development of the aircraft even if it failed to win the U.S. Air Force tender for 100 light attack and armed reconnaissance aircraft.

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The Super Tucano first flew in 1999 and was introduced into the Brazilian air force in 2003.

The Super Tucano's power is from a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68C turboprop producing 1,600 hp. Maximum speed is nearly 350 mph with a range of around 975 miles and a ceiling height of 35,000 feet. Armaments include two 12.7 mm FN Herstal M3P machine guns in wings and cannon pods and two MAA-1 Piranha missiles.

Other weapons can include conventional and laser-guided bombs. The aircraft also carries an electro-optical infrared sensor, laser designator and secure radios with data links.

Apart from the air force of Brazil, other users include the Dominican Republic and Colombia. Chile and Ecuador have placed orders.

Competitors to the Super Tucano include the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II, the Piper PA-48 Enforcer, the Turkish-made TAI Hurkus and the Pilatus PC-21 from Switzerland.

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