Colombia Air Force
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Colombia
Air Force

 

 

Current Title: Fuerza Aérea Colombiana
Title in English: Colombia Air Force
Abbreviation: FAC

History

Narrative Summary:
Military aviation started, when the Escuela Militar de Aviación was formed on 31.12.1919. On 10.12.1920 the Ministry of War formed the Sección de Aviación Militar. On 1.2.1921 the Escuela Militar de Aviación received three Caudron G.III training aircraft, three Caudron G.IV bombers and four Nieuport 17 fighter from a French military mission at Flandes. However the school did not live long, as it was disbanded on 28.4.1922, due to financial difficulties.

The air transport company SCADTA (Sociedad Colombiano-Alemana de Transportes Aéreos/Colombian-German Air Transport Company) was founded in 1919 primarily by German expatriates and staffed with veteran German pilots. Flying operations started in July 1920 with two Junkers F13 float seaplanes. It was only in 1924, when the Escuela Militar de Aviación was reformed at Madrid with the same aircraft and four Wild WT biplane trainers from Switzerland. During this time the Base Aérea Madrid was the only operational base of the Aviación Militar. Economic problems prevented the Air Force from further expension.

In 1932 the Sección de Aviación Militar was renamed División General de Aviación Militar Nacional. Dramatic expension started in 1932, after the "Leticia Incident". On 31.8.1932 the garrison of Leticia was ejected by Peruvian forces with the aim to return the Amazonian territory to Peru. Mediation attempts failed and Colombia and Peru prepared for war. Because of the small number of aircraft available to the Air Force, aircraft from the SCADTA were transferred to the Aviación Militar. The government raised funds and purchased 10 Falcon observation aircraft, seven CW-14 Osprey, six CW-16 trainers and 26 Hawk II fighters. Because of the Air Force having not so many trained airman, SCADTA assumed the task of recruiting pilots, mechanics and fitters, mostly  from Germany. The airline also negotiated the purchase of additional military aircraft from Germany. All new aircraft were assembled by SCADTA on behalf of the Aviación Militar and the company assumed responsibility for their subsequent maintenance and repair.

From 1932 to 1934 10 additional J-2 trainers, 16 PT-11C trainers and 30 Falcon bombers were delivered. In 1933 some Bases Auxiliares were formed at Tres Esquinas, Puerto Boy, Caucayá, Flandes, Puerto Arica, Potosí and the Base Aérea de “El Guabito” in Cali. The Escuela Militar de Aviación moved to Cali in 1933, while the main operations base of the Aviación Militar was at Palanquero. The conflict ended on June 25, 1934, when Peru accepted a face-saving formula through the Laegue of Nations and returned Leticia to Colombian control. Most of the Bases Auxiliares were disbanded after the conflict.

Many aircraft were used until the 1940s, when during World War II Colombia placed bases at the disposal of the United States government and received large quantities of training and transport aircraft. On 15.7.1942 the Air Force became an independent service and was named Fuerza Aérea Nacional (FAN). Only two years later, on 31.12.1944, the service was renamed Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC). After signing the Rio Pact in 1947 the Air Force got another time transport and training aircraft from the USA.

During the Colombian Civil War from 1948 till 1958 the FAC was called into action in April 1948, when the transport fleet brought reinforcement of troops to Bogotá to stop the riots after President Jorge Eliécer Gaitán was murdered. In 1949 the FAC received 35 Republic F-47D reforming a fighter squadron. In 1950 the FAC operated three groups with three operational squadrons each. During these years the Air Force has flowen many operations against guerilla positions.

During the Korean War, Colombia provided a total of four infantry battalions that served with UN forces, attached to the US 24th Division from August 1951, and latter the 7th US Division – from January 1952. Colombia provided a total of 6,200 troops and suffered 639 casualties. Most of these where soldiers of the 3rd Colombian Infantry Battalion, which was overran by a full Chinese Division, in March 1953. The Colombian Navy provided six major vessels during the war, and in total the country’s contribution made it a close US ally. As such, Columbia was the first Latin American country to obtain US jet aircraft.

Insurgent forces led an unsuccessful attack at Base Aérea Militar 2 Germán Olano on January 1, 1953. In 1954 the FAC got its first jet aircraft, six Lockheed T-33A advanced training aircraft and during the next years the service received many new aircraft and helicopters. After the overthrow of General Rojas Pinilla in 1957 not much money was available for the purchase of new aircraft and helicopter.

On April 12,1962 the Servicio de Aéronavigacion a Territorios Nacionales (SATENA), a paramilitary airline under the command of FAC was formed. During the next year many new helicopters were purchsed as the FAC was heavily involved in COIN operations against the left-wing nationalist April 19 Movement. No changes in the organisation took  place during the 1970s. Lacking any air defence capacity, the Colomobian Air Force tried to find a new fighter aircraft in the United States, but the U.S. government was reluctant to sell modern jet fighters. So Colombia went to France to buy Dassault Mirage 5 fighter aircraft in 1972.

From 1978 on the FAC received Cessna A-37B Dragonfly aircraft and from 1985 Kfir fighter from Israel.

The Air Force has limited capability for defence against external threats, far greater emphasis is placed on COIN missions, in the continuing battle against FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces) and ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - National Liberation Army) forces. In addition, the FAC is also heavily committed to aerial interdiction of drug traffickers, production facilities, and drug crop growing areas. Thanks to support from the United States, Colombia now has one of the largest helicopter forces in South America.

 

Key Dates:
31 December 1919   Escuela Militar de Aviación was formed.
10 December 1920   Sección de Aviación Militar was formed.
1924   Escuela Militar de Aviación was reformed.
1932    Sección de Aviación Militar was renamed División General de Aviación Militar Nacional.
1932 - 1934   "Leticia incident".
15 July 1942   The Air Force became an independent service and was named Fuerza Aérea Nacional (FAN)
31 December 1944   The service was renamed Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC).
1 January 1953   Insurgent forces led an unsuccessful attack at Base Aérea Militar 2 Germán Olano.
1954   First jet aircraft, six Lockheed T-33A advanced training aircraft, arrived in Colombia.
12 April 1962   Servicio de Aéronavigacion a Territorios Nacionales (SATENA) was formed.
 

Current Status:
The aircraft of the Air Force are fully operational.

Future Plans:
No information available.

Markings

National Insignia:
Current --- Historical

 

 

Aircraft Serial Numbering System(s):
From the early 1920s until ???? the aircraft serials began with an A for aviación and the number and were used in chronological order as aircraft arrive in the Air Force; eg: A-1

From ???? FAC is used as a prefix and the serial numbers are allocated in blocks according to the aircraft's primary role:

001 to 100 trainer

101 to 200 liaison

201 to 300 helicopter

301 to 500 miscellanous

501 to 600 light transport

601 to 700 transport

701 to 800 advanced trainer

801 to 900 fighter-bomber

901 to 1000 crew-trainer

1001 to 1300 transports (SATENA)

2001 to 2300 fighter and close support

2501 to 2600 bomber

3101 to 3200 COIN

4001 to 4600 helicopter

5001 to 5600 liaison

5701 to 5800 recon/ELINT

 

Unit/Base Aircraft Code System(s):
None.

Back to Top
Aircraft

Aircraft Designation System(s):
None.

Current Aircraft Inventory:
Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List:
Alphabetical Order --- Chronological Order

Organisation

Main Headquarters:
Edif. Centro Administrativo Nacional, Av El Dorado con Carrera 52 Can, Bogotá

Current Organisational Structure:
The Air Force is organised in three major commands: the Air Combat Command (Comando Aéreo de Combate) consists of six numbered Commands each constisting of two to four squadrons, the Military Air Transport Command (Comando Aéreo de Transporte Militar) consists of four squadrons and one military-run airline (SATENA) and the Military Aviation School (Escuela Militar de Aviación).

Current Order of Battle:
Table of Current Order of Battle

 

 

Historical Orders of Battle:

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1921)

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1924)

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1934)

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1944)

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1949)

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1965)

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1977)

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1982)

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1997)


 

All-Time Flying Units List: (only units, which are not included in the Orders of Battle)

Base Aérea del Sur “Puerto Boy”

2do Grupo de Combate

 

 

Air Bases

Current Air Bases:
The Colombian Air Force currently operates eleven mayor airbases and some secondary airfields.

Military Air Bases Listing

All-Time Air Bases Used List:
Military Air Bases Listing

More Information

Books:

 

Armed Forces of Latin America (Adrian English)

Latin-American Military Aviation (John Andrade)

Texan and Harvards in Latin America (Dan Hagedorn)

Latin American Fighters (Iñigo Guevara y Moyano)

Latin American Air Wars and Aircraft 1912-1969 (Dan Hagedorn)

Aircraft of the Chaco War 1928-1935 (Dan Hagedorn / Antonio L. Sapienza)

Air Arsenal North America (Phil Butler)

 

Magazines:

 

World Air Power Journal No.30 p. 132-137

Revista Aeronáutica Fuerza Aérea

Websites:

Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (official hompage)

Scramble: Colombia Air Arms

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First Created: 25 January 2008 - Last Revised:  25 July 2008
Copyright © 2008 Erich Klaus.    e-mail: erich.klaus@a1.net