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El Salvador begins air force modernisation effort

The Salvadoran Air Force (FAS), as part of a wider modernisation plan started this month, has received four MD530F helicopters donated by the United States, which are being assembled at Ilopango Air Base, an FAS source told Janes .

Three of the MD530Fs will be sent to Mali to replace the three MD500Es the FAS currently has there as part of a United Nations mission. The original plan was to receive 12 helicopters, but a deterioration in US- El Salvador relations led to the quantity reduction.

FAS modernisation plans also include buying one Schweizer 300C helicopter for training for USD507,000, and one Bell 412EPI multirole medium helicopterfor USD11.5 million. The air force is also requesting authorisation to purchase another 412EPI that Bell operates as demonstrator for about USD7 million.

Meanwhile, the FAS is negotiating with Airbus Helicopters for six H145s, for about USD8 million each, which would replace the current fleet of Bell UH-1Hs.

For fixed-wing aircraft, the FAS has purchased two Cessna 172 Skyhawks and two Cessna 208EX Grand Caravans (plus two options), which are soon to be received. The 172s are to replace SOCATA Rallyes, while the Grand Caravans are to reinforce the IAI Aravas in the transport fleet.

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