Minister of Security Raúl Mulino steadfastly refuses to tell us what the specifications are of the radar coastal monitoring system he purchased from SELEX Sistemi Integrati. He says that if he reveals that information, it would help drug smugglers and other criminals.
No problem, Raúl. We'll do it for you. The system that was bought consists of a national control centre made of 16 consoles, which will receive data from the 18 Lyra 50 radars, also provided together with eight regional centres, each one made of six controller working positions. The specifications of the Lyra 50 coastal surveillance radars can be found here in a Selex brochure.
And you know what? This is a totally useless purchase. Why? Because drug traffickers that operate along Panama's coasts typically use small lanchas made of polyester. Very low on the water, and if they hug the coast and there is a bit of wave action no radar will see them. This is why for example sailing yachts are usually equipped with a radar reflector, in the hope that at least some radar signal will bounce and make them show up on the screens, because their fiberglass hulls and aluminium masts won't accomplish that. Same goes, by the way, for wood.
So what is Mulino planning to do with these radar stations? Track Costa Rican war ships? Freighters? The ACP has that capability already. So not only is this whole radar deal mired in corruption, it's also a completely unnecessary purchase costing Panamanian taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Vamos bien! (Hat tip to JC for putting us on the right track).