Country Listing

Ecuador Table of Contents


Equipment Sources

Historically, Ecuador depended on a wide variety of foreign suppliers for virtually all of its equipment needs. Only in the 1980s did it begin to develop a modest domestic arms industry as the Directorate of Army Industries manufactured rifle ammunition, uniforms, boots, and other consumable items.

Prior to World War II, Italy supplied a substantial amount of military matériel to Ecuador. During and after World War II, the United States became the predominant supplier, although by the 1950s Ecuador had also turned to World War II-vintage weapons from European countries, notably aircraft from Britain. During the 1960s and 1970s, France became a leading supplier of tanks and aircraft. Ecuador purchased submarine and patrol boats from West Germany and rifles and machine guns from Belgium.

Ecuador became a substantial customer for Israeli arms in the 1970s, purchasing Arava aircraft, Gabriel missiles for arming naval patrol craft, Uzi submachine guns, and other munitions. Under technical assistance contracts, Israel serviced Israeli planes in the air force inventory as well as Boeing civilian aircraft flown by TAME and Ecuatoriana Airlines. Ecuador reportedly also employed Israeli security specialists as consultants in the fight against terrorism.

In 1976 Ecuador became the first foreign country to order the Kfir, an advanced jet fighter equipped with the General Electric J-79 engine produced in Israel under license. The transaction, which required United States government approval because of the engine technology, was rejected by the administration of President Jimmy Carter in order to discourage the proliferation of sophisticated military equipment in the Third World. The action caused an uproar in Israel where the sale was regarded as an important breakthrough in Israel's efforts to develop international markets for the Kfir. In 1981, after the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan, Washington removed its objection to the sale. Although the contract called for the purchase of twelve Kfirs and an option to purchase an additional twelve, Ecuador acquired only the original group, at a price estimated at US$196 million.

According to ACDA, Ecuador was a relatively heavy importer of arms in the late 1970s and early 1980s, averaging US$150 million annually and reaching a peak of US$280 million in 1982. These imports declined sharply to an average of only US$50 million annually between 1985 and 1987, presumably as a result of a dramatic reduction in oil revenues and the precipitous drop in the value of the sucre, which made imported arms extremely expensive. Between 1983 and 1987, Ecuador imported an estimated US$460 million of arms, primarily from Italy, France, the United States, and Britain. Ecuador did not receive military equipment from the Soviet Union or other communist countries.

Data as of 1989