SAO PAULO, Brazil – A subsidiary of U.S. military security contractor Blackwater Worldwide has purchased a fighter plane from the Brazilian aviation company Embraer, a Brazilian newspaper reported Sunday.
The 314-B1 Super Tucano propeller-driven fighter — the same used by the Brazilian military — was bought for US$4.5 million and delivered to EP Aviation at the end of February, according to the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper.
The report included the plane's registration number with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, and the FAA Web site confirmed it is registered by EP Aviation.
It was not clear if it was Embraer's first sale of a military-style aircraft to a private company. EP Aviation has 33 planes and helicopters registered with the FAA, according to the agency's Web site, only one of which is from Embraer.
Officials with Brazil's government and Embraer declined to comment on the Estado report. Phone calls to Blackwater were not returned.
The sale was apparently approved, the Estado report noted, by Brazil's president in a deal negotiated with the U.S. government.
Brazilian law prohibits the sale of arms to companies or for use in existing conflicts.
The newspaper reported that Blackwater president Gary Jackson said the plane would be used for training.
The plane sold to EP Aviation did not include the two .50-caliber machine guns normally attached to the wings.
Blackwater, the largest private security company in the world, has been under scrutiny as a U.S. federal grand jury investigates its involvement in the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians.
Blackwater also is under investigation for possible weapons smuggling allegations — accusations the company denies.