Honduras Air Force Has Problems
The comments made by the FAH that it needs the funds to fix the jets because they are "noble" aircraft or because their institution is losing its top status compared to other Central American air forces are ridiculous and lacking in strategic vision.
The commander of the Honduran Air Force, General Ruiz Pastor Landa, says that over half of the country's military planes are currently out of service. Five of their nine F-5 jets need repair before they can fly. All of their Tucano T-27s are in need of reconditioning that will cost about US$10 million dollars. Last month, the Fuerza Aérea Hondureña (FAH) also admitted it lacked the capabilities, radar and legal authority to shoot down drug trafficking planes that invade its airspace. A few comments on this:
1) The comments made by the FAH that its needs the funds to fix the jets because they are "noble" aircraft or because their institution is losing its top status compared to other Central American air forces are ridiculous and lacking in strategic vision. These decisions on military spending and equipment should be based on analyses of real security threats to Honduras, not questions of prestige or neighborly rivalry.
2) No matter the condition of the jets, illegal planes are going to slip in without a working radar system. The gap in Honduran airspace should be a military and civilian security priority for Honduras and for all of Central America.
3) The civilian leaders in the executive branch and Congress should demand a cost-benefit analysis. Would Honduras get more benefits spending this money on upgrading their jets, getting a working radar, improving their police or spending on social programs? The FAH is talking about spending a lot of money and I don't see much discussion about the tradeoffs. Given Honduras' security crisis and the limited government resources, this should be an essential debate.
4) Both the United States and Brazil have an important role to play here. The US provides significant aid to Honduras' military and police. Brazil's Embraer will be providing the technicians for the Tucano upgrades. Those two governments can and should play an important role in shaping the debate over this spending. They should be using that influence to help the Honduran Air Force figure out their role moving forward given the country's challenges and resource limitations.
Source: By James Bosworth / Honduras Weekly - Monday, 09 April 2012 (hondurasweekly.com)
Photo: The Honduras Air Force Northrop F-5E Tiger II (home.eblcom.ch)