The $2.14 million package is just one of a number of planned acquisitions. The Ministry also approved a contract to convert eight Spanish Aviocar C212-200 airplanes and 11 BO-105 helicopters to marine patrol aircraft. The Navy has also purchased two Russian Mi-17 helicopters (for patrol and search-and-rescue), as well as three Israeli Grumman 'Hawkeye' E-2C marine patrol airplanes (to support drug interception operations).
By 2001, Mexican Naval aviation reportedly mustered 118 aircraft; 68 fixed wing in 9 squadrons and 50 helicopters in 9 squadrons. The new Aviocars apparently will form a squadron for maritime patrol, search and rescue (SAR), fishery inspection and counter-narcotics operations, as well transport operations. Coincidentally, Portland-based Flir Systems was awarded a $5.5 million contract to deliver eight infrared surveillance systems for the Mexican Navy's 1st Naval Air Squadron, 2nd Naval Air Group. The contract runs through 2005 and the Mexicans have options for the purchase of up to 12 additional systems (depending on funding availability).
In August, Raytheon Company was awarded a contract of undisclosed value by EADS/CASA for the delivery of eight SeaVue maritime surveillance radars, spares, and logistical support (A follow-on order for 12 additional radars is expected in 2003).
These radars will be installed on the Mexican Navy's refurbished C-212 aircraft and are configured for small target detection, SAR, weather detection and navigation.
The Mexican Navy already operates six twin-engine MD Explorers, which were performing anti-drug smuggling patrols by April 2002. All six are outfitted for serious work, with 70mm rocket pods and GAU-19/A .50-caliber Gatling guns.
The navy also eventually plans to build eight new ocean side outposts to better patrol Mexico's coasts, and bankroll additional combat training for its pilots beginning in 2004. The navy asked the commission for an extra $1.1 million in funding over the next three years, to finance the new weapons and training. The navy's budget for this year totals just $850,000.
Strengthening the Mexican Navy's air arm will add to the region's stability, but guess who pays for this? The US State's Department's Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement provided $9,665,000 in police and/or military aid in 2002, with a similar amount projected for 2003. - Adam Geibel
The Mexican legislature revealed on 15 November that their navy has purchased five Russian-made "IGLA" Man Portable Air Defense Missile Systems (MANPADS), to better protect the oil platforms off the Gulf Coast port city of Campeche from possible terrorist attacks. These weapons have a maximum range of 3000 yards and a maximum altitude of 2,000 yards.