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ColBraIII 11An invitation by the Colombian air force enabled one of our editors to see first-hand how Brazil and Colombia control their aerial border in close cooperation. Welcome to Leticia, Amazonas department, for a report of exercise COLBRA III. The main goal of COLBRA III was to share intelligence between the two countries to effectively counter border crossing illegal flights and fostering the professional relationships resulting from working against a common enemy. Smuggling of weapons, drugs and endangered products from the Amazon forced the Brazilian air force to begin bi-national exercises with neighbouring countries, starting with Argentina a few years ago.


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Latin American brotherhood at its best! Leticia’s ramp is shared by a visiting Brazilian C-97 (EMB120) and a Colombian SR-560 Tracker (Ce560) on the kick-off day of 2009’s COLBRA exercise. Note the two kill-markings on the nose!

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Acting as a target aircraft for both sides was this Cessna 208 of the Colombian air force, which is assigned to the Leticia based 26th Jungle Brigade of the Colombian army.

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The Colombian air force deployed two Tucanos to Leticia to take part in COLBRA III. FAC2254 is normally based at Apiay.

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The SR-560 Horus is basically a Citation 560 business jet equipped with the F-16’s APG-66(V) radar. Five of these aircraft were delivered under the Airbrigde Denial programme and proved very effective in curbing the flow of drugs through Colombian airspace.

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Commemorative markings were applied to the SR-560 for this exercise, sporting the call signs of the participants.

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Well protected from the harsh tropical conditions in the Amazon region, this Colombian Super Tucano’s cockpit has been covered rapidly after cessation of flight operations for the day.

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The editor’s ride to Colombia’s deep south, an upgraded Lockheed C-130B Hercules of the Colombian air force, which performed an operational SAM-evading approach to Leticia.

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The Brazilian delegation visited Leticia for the day, with this Embraer C-97 Brasilia, which also participated in the exercise, posing as a smuggler.

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A map of the area including the southernmost point in Colombia, where the town of Leticia sits on the Amazon river, bordered by Brazil to the east and Peru to the south.

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The Colombian air force deploys its Black Hawk helicopters on combat missions. This heavily upgraded version is equipped with various weapons and helmet mounted sight targeting systems. FAC4131 is a so called AH-60L Arpia III version.