Narrative History

of the Paraguayan Air Force

Military aviation started in 1913 with the purchase of an Deperdussin T. In 1914 an Escuela de Aviación Militar (EAM) was formed and operated under the control of the Paraguay Army, with one Henri Farman and two Bleriot aircraft and Teniente Silvio Pettrossi as first dircetor. Pettrossi died on October 17, 1916, when he crashed with the Deperdussin T in Buenos Aires. After three years without flight activity the EAM was reactivated with the acquisition of one each Macchi-Lohner L-3 flying boat and Macchi M-7.

At the beginning of 1922 there was no operational aircraft in Paraguay. From May 1922 army officers rebelled against the government of President Ayala. Both sides tried to buy aircraft and recrut pilots in Argentina. The first aircraft, which the government forces got, was an Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8, followed by a single SPAD S.XX, two Italian built S.A.M.L. A.3s, two Ansaldo SVA-5s and one SVA-10 operating out of Base Aérea Ñu-Guazú/ Asunción. The first operational mission to bomb rebel positions was flown on June 29, 1922. During August 1922 the rebel forces bought four Ansaldo aircraft in Argentina and started to fly combat operations. At the end the government forces were victorious.

Tension with Bolivia grow from 1927 about the Chaco region and on January 13, 1929 Paraguay commenced mobilisation. After some skirmished in 1932 the congress of Paraguay called up reservists. On September 9, 1932 the first major aerial combat of the war occured, when two Bolivian aircraft met two Paraguay aircraft at Fortín Boquerón and managed to shot down one Potez 25A of the Pagarguay Air Force. During the next months there were many additional engagements between the two Air Forces. During 1933 the war became more static, as both sides fortified their defensive positions. There were no air engagements from June 1933 till June 1934. The last air combat took place on January 10, 1935, almost 6 month before the cease fire. Paraguay lost 11 aircraft during this conflict.

From 1935 the air force was called Arma Aérea Paraguay, still under Army control.

During World War Two Paraguay did not declare war on the Axis powers until February 1945. The Air Force did not receive large quantities of aircraft though the Lend-Lease Program, but only about 35 training and transport aircraft including BT-13A and PT-19A.

After a failed coup in December 1946 a full-scale civil war broke out with both sides operating aircraft. The rebels formed an Arma Aérea Revolucionaria with eight aircraft from defected pilots of the government air force on March 8, 1947. Some days later they attacked government positions at Belén-Cué and Paso Né, near San Pedro. During the next months, there were several operations by both air forces to support their respective ground forces. The revolution ended on August 20, 1947 and all rebel aircraft fled to Brazil and Argentina. They were later returned to Paraguay.

The Air Force entered the jet age, when they bought some EMB-326 Xavante in 1979. During the next years only small quantities of combat, liaison and transport aircraft were aquired. The Air Force became an independent service only on 26.7.1989 and renamed Fuerza Aérea Paraguay (FAP).

Today the FAP is organised in the I Brigada Aérea, Brigada Aerotransportada "Silvio Pettirossi" and the Comando de Institutos Aeronauticos de Ensenanza, which were formed 1991.

 

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