Defense Minister Rafael Rey announced Thursday that South Korea donated eight used light attack aircrafts to Peru, which will be used for training air force pilots and conducting border surveillance and counter-narcotics operations.
Rey told TV Peru the donation of the Cessna-built A-37 Dragonfly combat planes is valued at $66 million. South Korea also donated additional engines and spare parts that the Air Force will use to repair four other aircraft.
“The donation of the eight planes from South Korea will help us replace a fleet that is completely out-of-date and, in many cases, not operative,” Rey said.
The planes will be used to survey the border region in Peru’s north-east Amazon region, in compliance with the Amazon Cooperation Treaty. Signed in 1978, the treaty is a multi-lateral agreement that includes eight countries to promote sustainable development in the Amazon basin.
The aircraft will also be used to combat drug trafficking n Peru’s coca-growing regions, particularly the Apurimac and Ene River Valleys, or VRAE. Sporadic attacks by drug traffickers and their hired guns – mostly remnants of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency – claim lives every year.
“These (combat planes) are going to serve, primarily, for training of our personnel and, secondly, for border surveillance… and of course to combat narco-terrorism chiefly in the VRAE but also in other regions,” Rey said.
South Korea’s donation is an attempt by Seoul to improve bilateral ties with Peru and make inroads into the South American arms market, the Korea Times reported South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense as saying.
The A-37 Dragonfly combat planes were built by the United States and used in the Vietnam War. South Korea bought the aircrafts in the 1970’s and retired 20 of them in 2007.