Narrative History

of the Uruguayan Air Force

Military aviation started at Los Cerrillos/Montevideo when the Escuela Militar de Aviación (EMA) was formed on 17.3.1913 with one Framan and one Bleriot XI aircraft. Due to lack of funds the school ceased to exist in July 1913 and was only reactivated on 20.11.1916 at the Paso de Mendoza zone of Montevideo. In 1920 a French military mission arrived in country and brought some training aircraft with them. During the next years the Air Force received some additional aircraft and in 1924 the first operational unit, an Escuadrilla de Caza, was formed.

In 1935 a mayor reorganisation took place, the Air Force became Aeronáutica Militar (A.M.) and the Base Aeronáutica No.1 and Base Aeronáutica No.2 were formed. In 1940, the Uruguayan Government placed base facilities at the disposal of the United States and consequently became eligible for Lend-Lease military aid. During the next years the AM received small quantities of transport and training aircraft. In 1947 a United States air mission arrived in country and the AM was reorganised and the first transport and combat unit were established. After the delivery of 15 North American B-25J Mitchell and 25 North American F-51D Mustang in 1950 a bomber and fighter group were formed. In 1951 a national airline PLUNA (Primeras Líneas Uruguayas de Navegación Aérea) was formed under military control.

The AM was renamed Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya (FAU) on 4.12.1953 and became an independent service. 1955 saw the arrival of the first jet fighter aircraft, the Lockheed AT-33A, in the inventory of the FAU. On 11.10.1960 three commands (Comando Aéro-Tactico, Comando Aéreo de Entrenamiento and Comando Aéreo de Material) were formed to operate all units of the FAU.

By 1961 PLUNA had become an autonomous civil airline and a new military airline TAMU (Transportes Aéreos Militares Uruguayos) was formed in 1970 and aircraft of all Grupos de Aviación (Transporte) shared its equipment to operate a number of routes within the country and later to Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The aircraft carried both FAU serials and civil registrations.

The Bases Aeronáuticas were reformed in the 1965 as brigades (Brigada Aérea). In the 1970s the Lockheed F-80C were replaced by the Cessna A-37B. During the next years the FAU received small quantities of COIN, transport, traning and liaison aircraft and also some helicopters.

A mayor reorganisation took place on 27.4.1994, when all Regimientos Tácticos and Grupos de Aviación became Escuadrones Aéreos. On 14.7.1994 all air bases (Aeródromos Militares) were renamed as Bases Aéreas.

Today the Air Operations Command (Comando Aéreo de Operaciones) is divided into three Brigada Aéreas, each consisting of one to four squadrons (Escuadrón
Aéreo).

 

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