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
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