UPDATE 1-Ecuador to buy 24 warplanes from Brazil's Embraer

Tue Apr 29, 2008 6:52pm EDT

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(Adds minister's quote, details and background)

QUITO, April 29 (Reuters) - Ecuador will buy 24 warplanes made by Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer (ERJ.N)(EMBR3.SA), Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim told Reuters on Tuesday.

"Its a done deal," Jobim said during a visit to Ecuador's capital Quito when asked if Ecuador had agreed to buy the turboprop Super Tucano planes.

"Financing has been approved," he added.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said he planned to beef up it country's air force to protect its porous border with Colombia after that country bombed a leftist rebel camp inside Ecuador.

The March 1 incursion briefly raised the threat of war, but tensions eased during a regional meeting a week later. Ecuador has severed diplomatic ties with Bogota and tensions remain high between both countries.

Armed conflict between both neighbors is very unlikely, experts say.

Jobim did not say how much Ecuador will spend for the planes, but local media speculates it could cost more than $200 million.

"I don't know the price... the purchase details were arranged by the Ecuadorean government and Embraer directly," Jobim added. (Reporting by Alonso Soto; additional reporting by Guillermo Granja; editing by Carol Bishopric/Andre Grenon)

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