Ecuador Air Force
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Air Force


Current Title: Fuerza Aérea Equatoriana
Title in English: Ecuadorian Air Force
Abbreviation: FAE


Narrative Summary:
Military aviation started in 1920, when two Escuela de Aviación Militar were formed on 27.10.1920 in Guayaquil and Quito respectively, with the help of an Italian Air Mission, who brought with them a handful of airplanes and started to train Ecuadorian pilots. On 5.6.1921 the school in Quito was closed and on 12.7.1921 the Escuela de Aviación Militar "El Cóndor" was formed to became the nucleus of the Compañia de Aviación del Ejército. In 1925 the unit had about 20 aircraft  and was renamed in 1927 Cuerpo de Aviadores Militares del Ejército. Another change took place on the 3.7.1935, when the Fuerza Aérea del Ejército Equatoriana (FAEE) was formed. During 1937 another Italian training team came to Ecuador and brought with them some Gabardini Monoplano aircraft. The Italian military mission was withdrawn in 1940, when Italy entered World War Two.

A United States military mission was established in January 1941, after Ecuador gave the permission for the construction of two large U.S. air bases for the defence of the Panama Canal. One base was built on the Galapagos Island of Baltra and the other at Salinas. But the mission did not commerce its activities until after the brief but disastrous war with Peru in July 1941. After a series of skirmishes along the common border, a full-scale war brock out, which ended after a quick victory of the Peruvian army. As the Ecuadorian Air Force had no combat aircraft at that time, it played no important role during the invasion. In January 1942 the Protocolo de Rio, a Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the United States brockered cease fire agreement, was signed and Ecuador lost about 200.000 square kilometers of land. Later in that year the Ecuadorian Air Force received a small quantity of training aircraft together with six Seversky P-35 fighters to form the first combat unit, the Escuadrilla de Caza, from the United States. After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government began pressuring Ecuador to take over the national airline, Sociedad Ecuatoriana de Transportes Aéreos (SETA, Ecuadorian Air Transport Company), which was still run by Germans. As this was done the air force received three Junkers Ju-52 from the company.

The FAEE became an independent service in 1944 and was renamed Fuerza Aérea Equatoriana (FAE). During 1947 the Escuadrón de Caza was reequipped with some twenty F-47D Thunderbolt fighter-bombers. Ecuador entered the jet age in 1954, when the FAE ordered six Canberra bombers and twelve Gloster Meteor fighter, making the country the second South American nation to have a tactical air force. The discovery of oil in the late 1960s revolutionised the Ecuadorian economy and led to the purchase of many additional combat aircraft during the 1970s. BAC Strikemaster were bought in 1972, Cessna A-37B in 1976, BAC Jaguar in 1977 and Dassault Mirage F-1 in 1978. The FAE was organised during this time in one Ala de Combate (Fighter Wing), one Grupo de Transpotes Aéreos Militares (Military Air Transport Group) and one Escuela Militar de Aviación (Military Aviation School).

On January 22, 1981 the Ecuadorian military established a new outpost, named Paquisha, south of the Cordillera del Condor in Peruvian territory. The Peruvian government denounced the infiltration as aggression and claimed Paquisha to be an illegal outpost according to the Protocolo de Rio, giving it the name Falso Paquisha (False Paquisha) to distinguish it from the other outpost in well established ecuadorian territory. The Peruvian Army organized an attack to expel Ecuadorian troops from their positions. The Fuerza Aérea del Peru (FAP) flow many sorties with A-37B, Mirage 5P and Su-22 to support these operations. The FAE flow 179 combat missions with A-37B and Mirage F-1 aircraft to counter the FAP attacks. On January, 28 1981 it came to a dogfight between 2 A-37B (FAE 381, 384) each of the FAE and FAP. However the Peruvian operation was a success and Falso Paquisha was taken on February, 5 1981 by Peruvian troops with little casualties. The Peruvian president Fernando Belaunde visited the site a few days later and exhibited to the press some of the captured equipment.

In early 1995, the Condor War - better known as "Alto-Canepa" War - began. Both armies started to concentrate troops in the Cenepa Valley. On January 9, a Peruvian Army patrol was caught in Ecuadorean territory, captured and returned to the commander of the Peruvian military post Soldado Pastor. Two days later, on 11 January, another Peruvian patrol was caught in Ecuadorian territory. When ordered to stop, however, the invading troops oppened fire. The Peruvians then started deploying reinforcements along into the crisis area, mainly with the help of helicopters, and on 21 and 22 January they started a large scale attack on Ecuadorian border posts along the Condor mountain range, and also in the Canepa River basin. All of their attacks were repelled. During the next two days there were constant battles.

When hostilites started the FAP launched a crash programme to bring as many aircraft into operational condition as possible. Even EMB-312 Tucano training aircraft were commited to the fight: equipped with NVG, they were employed on night attacks with iron bombs against Ecuatorian positions. Despite emergency measures, FAP activities underwent a slow buildup - but never never reached it`s full potential. Helicopters of the FAP and the AEP (Peruvian Army Aviation) also experienced this kind of troubles, but probably to a lesser extent. Types employed during the fighting were Mi-8TV and Mi-17 from the Batallón de Asalto y Transporte 811 (Assault and Transport Battalion) and Batallón de Asalto y Transporte 821 respectively (both from the AEP). FAP employed Mi-8, Mi-17 and Bell 212 from Grupo Aéreo 3 and Mi-25 Hind D from Grupo Aéreo 2. They were used intensively in the Cenepa because lack of roads made them the only way to bring supplies to the forward line quickly. They also provided fire support with rocket and gun pods, but Ecuador had learned the leason from 1981 and deployed quite large numbers of MANPADs and AAA coupled to an adequate radar network. For that reason losses were heavy. Few details are known about the Peruvian aircraft lost during this period. These included a Mi-8TV (EP-587), shot down by a Blowpipe MANPAD between Base Sur and Coangos, on January, 29; Canberra B.Mk.68, which probably crashed against a mountain in bad weather conditions, on February,6 and a Mi-25, shot down by two or three SA-16s while attacking Ecuatorian positions over the Base Sur, on February, 7. After the failure of negotiations, on 9 February 1995, fiercest fighting so far broke out and the FAP was now very active.

On that day alone, the FAP flew 16 sorties, some of these by Mirage 5Ps and Su-22s, foremost against Ecuadorian posts around Cangos and the Base Sur. In the following night, additional strikes were flown by Canberra against Ecuadorian positions in the Cenepa valley, and in the morning of February,10 A-37Bs and Su-22Ms flew a series of attacks against Tiwintza and Cueva de Los Tayos. The Ecuadorians claimed two additional Mi-8s shot down by Blowpipes and AAA on that morning as well. In the afternoon FAE Mirage F.1JAs became active over the battlefield and two of them intercepted a group of AT-37Bs and Su-22Ms which started from Talara and Chiclayo. The Mirage FAE807 shot down a Su-22M with one R-550 Magic missile. The pilot ejected but died after the landing. The second Su-22M was shot down by the wingman of FAE807, whose serial number is not known. Some times later, two Ecuadorian Kfir established a CAP over the Cenepa Valley. Only minutes after the two FAE interceptors reached their assigned combat air patrol station, they detected a section of FAP A-37Bs. Kfir FAE905  managed to position behind the enemy aircrafts and shot down one A-37B with a Shafrir-IV AAM. The other pilot  managed to evade the Kfirs by hard maneuvering at low level and returned safely to the base, while the crew of the downed aircraft ejected safely and were later recovered.

In the following days, the Ecuadorians claimed more Peruvian aircraft as shot down. A FAP Mi-8TV (EP-547) was certainly hit by AAA and forced to crash-land near the River Tatangosa, on February, 13. Despite the relatively heavy losses for such a short conflict, the FAP continued flying strikes on the following morning as well, while its helicopters continued supporting ground troops, deploying additional commandos on strategically important peakes. Mi-8s showed as not especially effective at given heights and under given climatic circumstances and some problems were encountered with them.

Ecuadorians claimed another FAP aircraft as shot down in the night of February, 11 this time another Canberra, while Peruvians claimed two Ecuadorian Kfirs as shot down by SA-14 MANPADs. The Ecuadorians confirmed that at least one of their fighters was hit, but it managed to return back to its base. In fact, the FAE became very active already on February, 7, sending several waves of A-37Bs into strikes - all escorted by Mirages and Kfirs, and the first FAE aircraft to get hit by Peruvian air defences was damaged already on that day. The aircraft was an A-37B. It was in attack against the Peruvian post on the Condor Mountain, when its wingman warned him of a missile. Seconds later a MANPAD detonated near the right engine, causing much damage. Nevertheless the damage caused was not heavy, and the aircraft was operational again later on the same day. On February, 14 Peruvians claimed another A-37B over Cueva de Los Tayos, hit by SA-7 or SA-16, but - while this plane, FAE-293 -  it returned safely to the base and was subsequently repaired.

On February, 17 the United Nations brokered a cease-fire, so the fighting stopped. During the short war the FAP suffered a loss of two Mi-8TV and two Mi-17 each, as well as two Su-22s, one A-37B, one Canberra, and one Mi-25. The FAE lost at least one Gazelle helicopter and had an A-37B and a Kfir damaged. Signature of a peace treaty in October 1998 ended hostilities.

In 2006 the Comando de Operaciones Aéreas y Defensa (COAD) and the Comando de Educación y Doctrina (CED) were formed.

Today the FAE is organised in three combat, one transport wing and one flying training school.


Key Dates:
7.10.1920    The Escuela Militar de Aviación was formed.
1925 Compañia de Aviación del Ejército was established.
1927 The CAE was renamed Cuerpo de Aviadores Militares del Ejército.
3 July 1935 The Fuerza Aérea del Ejército Equatoriana was formed.
July 1941 War with Peru
January 1942   Protocolo de Rio was signed
1944   FAEE became an independent service and was renamed Fuerza Aérea Equatoriana.
January 1981   Paquisha Conflict (Border conflict with Peru).
1995   Alto-Canepa War (Border conflict with Peru).
2006   Comando de Operaciones Aéreas y Defensa (COAD) and the Comando de Educación y Doctrina (CED) were formed.

Current Status:
Units of the Air Force are fully operational.

Future Plans:
No information available.

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National Insignia:
Current --- Historical



Aircraft Serial Numbering System(s):
Many aircraft use their construction numbers as serial numbers with the prefix FAE. The aircraft of TAME use civil registration plus FAE serial numbers.


Unit/Base Aircraft Code System(s):
Coding system not used.


Aircraft Designation System(s):

Current Aircraft Inventory:
Table of Current Service Aircraft

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


Main Headquarters:
Ministerio de Defensa Nacional (Parque La Recoleta), Edificio de la Comandancia General de la Fuerza Aérea, Secretaría General FAE, Quinto Piso Calle Exposición 208 y Maldonado, Quito

Current Organisational Structure:
The Air Force is organised in three combat, one transport wing and one flying training school.

Current Order of Battle:
Table of Current Order of Battle



Historical Orders of Battle:

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1948)

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1962)

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1967)

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1977)

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1987)

Historical Order of Battle (as at 1997)

Historical Order of Battle (as at 2006)


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




Air Bases

Current Air Bases:
The Ecuadorian Air Force currently operates seven mayor airbases and a number of secondary airfields.

Military Air Bases Listing

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

More Information




Texan and Harvards in Latin America (Dan Hagedorn)

Latin American Fighters (Iñigo Guevara y Moyano)




World Air Power Journal 30, p.138-140

Air International 10/1990 p. 219-225

Air International 5/2000 p. 277-281


Fuerza Aérea Equatoriana (official homepage)

Historia Ilustrada de la FUERZA AÉREA ECUATORIANA

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First Created: 25 March 2005 - Last Revised:  25 August 2010
Copyright © 2005 Erich Klaus.    e-mail: