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Fuerza Aerea Colombiana
By Inigo Guevara
Sep 1, 2003, 17:25

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The Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC - Colombian Air Force) has been forced to evolve during the past decade amidst the violent situation in the country. Plagued by a 40-years-old left-wing insurgency, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), as well as a second insurgent group, the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), and several private, right-wing paramilitary and/or cartel forces. The FAC is therefore struggling to become an effective COIN and anti-narcotic air force.

The United States was always the main source of equipment – and especially so during the past two decades, and it has also become its main sponsor. However, military aid has not come in the massive quantities that the Colombian Government expected and that the FAC requires. Modern military aircraft used in recent COIN campaigns (Afghanistan, Iraq, etc), such as AH-64 Apaches, AH-1W Super Cobras, AC-130 Spectre, and A-10 Thunderbolt’s are clearly unavailable to this South American air force.

Roots

The FAC can trace its origins back to the Escuela Militar de Aviación (EMA - Military Aviation School), created in the city of Flandes in 1922. The EMA closed its door in 1924 due to financial difficulties and the country’s aviation development rested in the hands of the German-owned SCADTA airline. SCADTA served as the basis for the foundation of a latter Military Air Arm that was pressed into action during the 1932 war with Peru.

Ten years latter the U.S. established a Military Mission in Colombia. Tasked with the modernization of the Colombian armed forces, as well as the defence of the Panama Canal from Colombian bases, the mission transferred up to 200 aircraft to the FAC during the 1943-45 period. B-25 Mitchell bombers, P-47D Thunderbolt fighters, Douglas C-47 transports and PBY-5 Catalina maritime patrol aircraft where also transferred to the FAC after the signing of the 1947 Río Treaty of Mutual Defence.

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 jets.

Although the FAC was somewhat modernized during the 1950s, by the early 1960s it had shrunk by half. With a growing insurgency problem, it focused on expanding its COIN capabilities. Bell UH-1D, Kaman HH-43B and Hughes 500 helicopters joined a dedicated COIN force of B-26 Invaders and T-6 Texan armed trainers. During the 1970s the FAC obtained its first supersonic aircraft in the form of a squadron of Dassult Mirage 5 fighter-bombers. French influence during the decade, which extended to a sizeable Aerospatiale SA.316B Alouette III fleet, was completely replaced by US and Israeli influence during the 1980s and 1990s, with Brazilian Tucano trainers entering service as front-line COIN aircraft since the mid-1990s as well. The FAC has also bought some Brazilian-built light transports, however, the purpose-built Super Tucano light fighter has found obstacles from a powerful US-lobby to supply a 24-aircraft requirement.

Douglas C-47's have served Colombia since 1944. It continues to provide a trusty transport capability and new Basler-67 conversions will keep the type in service for years to come. (Source José Carreño)


Organization

The FAC is organized into six “Combat Air Commands” (CACOM). Each CACOM is responsible for all air operations conducted in its own geographic area. CACOM’s deploy units or flights to out-of-area bases in support of other CACOM’s. A CACOM is formed by an “Air Group” that controls usually two to four squadrons, each squadron has a specific role. Traditionally a squadron will have the same aircraft model, although the recent re-organization of “tactical air squadrons” designed for COIN and anti-narcotic operations, include a mix of models that range from helicopters to gunships. There is also a Maintenance Command (CAMAN) and an Air Transport Command (CATAM).

COMANDO AEREO DE COMBATE 1

CACOM-1 is equipped with the FAC’s supersonic fighter squadrons and provides national air defence coverage. The strategic central base in Palanquero, Military Air Base No.2 “German Olan”, houses the 21st Air Group formed by three combat squadrons (212, 213 and 215) and one mixed attack/transport squadron (214).

The 212th Combat Squadron operates the survivors of 18 Mirage 5 fighter-bombers bought from France in 1970. The FAC bought a total of 14 single-seater Mirage 5COA (serials 3021 to 3034), two 5COD two-seat conversion trainers (serials 3001 & 3002) and two 5COR recon variants (serials 3011 & 3012). These where delivered in 1972 and replaced the old Sabre fleet in the 1st Combat Group at German Olano Military Air Base, Palanquero. FAC 3025 crashed in august 1972, a few weeks after delivery.

In 1988 the Mirage fleet was upgraded by IAI at the Maintenance Command (CAMAN) in Madrid Air Base. They received Kfir-C.7-style canards, flight-refuelling capability and a new navigation and fire-control systems. The fleet was further upgraded during 2001 to include night vision systems and laser-guided weapons. The resulting aircraft has been designated 5COAM. In October 1996 the remaining 5COR recon version was converted into a standard 5COAM, after having its recon equipment removed. By 2004, the FAC had lost seven Mirages in separate incidents.

During the early 1980s the FAC developed a requirement for another squadron of supersonic fighters, and this time the requirement was for a fighter-ground-attack type. A failed attempt to buy a squadron of Northrop F-5E/F Tigers from the US led Colombia to enter negotiations with Israel for the supply of Kfir fighter-bombers, and Colombia eventually bought 14 Kfirs from Israel in 1988, for $200 million, after they signed an Economic Cooperation Treaty in April of the same year. Even this acquisition was only possible with an approval from the US Congress – because of US-made J79 engines that power Kfir – in 1987. Only 13 Kfirs where delivered, serials FAC 3040 to 3051 (C.7s) and FAC 3003 (TC.7). FAC 3042 was lost in May 1995 and FAC 3046 was written off in June 2003. Remaining Colombian Kfirs are armed with the Python III AAM and Griffin LGBs, and have been used extensively in COIN operations, mainly against the FARC. A follow-on C.10-upgrade could keep the fleet in Colombian colours at least until 2020 and provide the FAC with a BVR capability.

The 12 Kfir C.7s delivered to Columbia have seen extensive service in COIN war against FARC-rebels. The type is equipped with various weapons of US- and Israeli-origins - including Python Mk.III air-to-air missiles and Griffon laser-guided-bombs, and proved highly efficient. One was lost in an accident. (Artwork by Tom Cooper)


The 214th Tactical Squadron is a CAS-dedicated unit. It received five AC-47 gunships – converted from C-47 transports – in 1988. Several shortcomings where identified by the FAC, and one aircraft (FAC 1650) was lost in August 1988, shortly after its delivery. During 1991 the FAC’s Commander visited the US with intentions on acquiring the more powerful AC-130 Spectre gunship. However, the Spectre is not able to operate in such a wide variety of Colombian short landing strips. In 1992 the FAC opted for an upgrade package offered by Basler Turbo Conversions LLC, which put most of the airframe back to 0-hours condition. Recent upgrades provided by a $6.4 million grant from the US have included a new fire-control system, FLIR and NVG’s, the developed aircraft being dubbed the AC-47T Fantasma (Phantom) for its ability to strike at night. A seventh Fantasma (FAC 1667) was delivered as late as November 2001 to the FAC, to replace FAC 1659 that crashed in September 2000. Hughes OH-6 Cayouse scout, UH-1H transport helicopters and PA-31 light transports complement the squadron’s equipment. The last squadron is in charge of LIFT operations. Survivors of ten Cessna T-37C Tweety Birds received in 1969 (serials FAC 2101 to 2110) continue to provide the 215th Squadron’s combat material. T-37s were originally operated by the EMA replacing old T-6 Texans in the advanced/armed trainer role, but have since been re-organized into an operational COIN unit. A further 12 T-37Bs where obtained from US and Chilean stocks during the early 1990s.

The FAC has outlined a requirement for up to 12 new jet trainers to replace T-37s and has studied both the Lockheed-Martin Argentina AT-63 and Embraer AMX-T. Most of the T-37-fleet has been inoperable for several years, with at least eight examples being kept in open storage at Barranquilla.

recently upgraded Kfirs are the most capable fighters in FAC inventory. (Source: FAC)


Cancelled Fighters and a New Boss

In February 2003 the Spanish government announced that it would donate a squadron of Mirage F.1 fighters to Colombia as part of a Military Aid package intended to fight terrorism. The eight ex-Qatari Mirage F-1EDA/DDA offered have Super-530 medium-range AAM and Exocet capability. However, the Mirage F.1 is clearly not suited for COIN and anti-narcotic operations, and its contribution by Spain as part of the “International War on Terror” was a scam.

The overhaul of the ex-Qatari Mirages would had cost Colombia at least $56 million, plus training and spares. The FAC Commander, General Héctor Fabio Velasco, declined the donation, causing a huge national and international scandal. General Velasco, who had commanded the FAC for the past five years, was subsequently forced to resign and has currently been appointed Colombia’s military attaché to Israel. General Velasco’s dismissal was also linked to the bombing of a small town, Santo Domingo, in 1998, where 18 civilians where killed. There are, however, unconfirmed reports that the US Southern Command offered the FAC a squadron of ex-USAF F-16s and this prompted the Mirage dismissal. Certain is that Gen. Edgar Alfonso Lesméz Abad has been appointed as the FACs new C-in-C instead of Velasco.

COMANDO AEREO DE COMBATE 2

CACOM 2 is based at BAM #3, “Luis F. Gómez Niño”, some ten miles from Villavicencio, and is tasked with providing CAS to National Army and Police units. It’s Air Group is formed of two attack squadrons (311 and 312) and a helicopter squadron (313). CACOM 2 also provides aircraft detachments to the newly formed Grupo Aereo de Oriente (Easter Air Group) at Base Aérea Teniente Coronel Luis Arturo Rodríguez Meneses, near Puerto Carreño. This base is the main Colombian Military Base, in charge of mounting patrols on the Venezuelan and Brazilian borders.

The 312th Special Operations Squadron was activated in 1991 with the delivery of 12 ex-USAF Rockwell OV-10A Broncos (serials FAC 2210 to 2221). Broncos where immediately pressed into service against the FARC and other guerrilla groups. In 1997 the FAC received a further three ex-USMC Broncos to be used as sources of spares (they nevertheless received the serials FAC 2222 to 2224), and the whole fleet is about to receive a major overhaul as well as a limited upgrade – thanks to a $16.9 million aid-package destined in the frame of the so-called “Plan Colombia”. Meanwhile, in the year 2000 the USA offered ten additional examples of which at least seven will be put into service.

Additional ex-USAF OV-10D Broncos operate in Colombia, but these form part of the US State Department fleet. Up to ten Broncos are flown by DynCorp, and wear local Policia Nacional de Colombia serials (PNC 3040 to 3050 series). DynCorp was created in 1946 by the US State Department and tasked with providing – at the time WWII-surplus – aircraft and personnel to Third World allies in trouble spots. It provides a detachment of Spanish-speaking pilots, mechanics and consultants. One DynCorp Bronco (PNC 3047) was shot down in the northeast by the Ejército de Liberación Nacional, Colombia’s second largest guerrilla army, during September 2003, while PNC 3048 was lost in March 2002.

In the face of these limited resources supplied from the USA, in the late 1980s and early 1990s the FAC turned to new sources: in 1989 the Argentine government provided three IA-58A Pucara turbo-prop fighter-bombers (serials FAC 2201 to 2203). These were operated alongside Broncos during the 1990s before being retired in 1999, as it proved too expensive to maintain such a small fleet. An offer for three former Argentine Air Force IA-63 Pampa jet trainers was therefore not taken up.

In 1992 the FAC bought 14 Embraer EMB-312 Tucano tactical trainers. These where delivered together with equipment needed for deployment of weapons and where assigned serials FAC 2250 to 2263. Tucanos replaced a squadron of Lockheed T-33s used for both, COIN and advanced training. They equipped the 312th Combat Squadron which sometimes deploys to Marandúa Air Base. The FAC has been quite pleased with the Tucano, as its serviceability record has been quite good. The Columbians are therefore keen in obtaining the more powerful Super Tucano in order to satisfy a requirement for 24 new COIN fighters. The Brazilian type is favoured among a competition that includes the Pilatus PC-21 and the Raytheon AT-6 Texan II.

The 313th Squadron has a mix of Hughes 500 scout helicopters and UH-1H assault helicopters. CACOM 2 is sometimes reinforced a few A-37B Dragonfly attack- and Schweizer SA2-37B surveillance planes, deployed to support COIN and anti-narcotic operations.

Broncos are used for COIN and anti-narcotic operations by the FAC as well as by the US DynaCorp mercenary outfitt. They are to be replaced by 24 new COIN/light fighters in the near future. (via I. Guevara)


COMANDO AEREO DE COMBATE 3

Based in General Alberto Pawels Rodríguez airfield, also known as Military Air Base #4 and referred to as “Base Atlántico”, CACOM 3 is tasked with the protection of Colombia’s Atlantic coast. Air Group 41 is the main flying body and includes two squadrons, 411th Combat Squadron and 412th General Support Squadron.

The 411th Combat Squadron is the largest Colombian unit. It operates survivors of 32 Cessna A-37B Dragonfly attack aircraft. These were delivered in two batches, with the first being intend to replace the old A-26 Invaders in 1980. In 1984 a second batch was acquired to protect the San Andrés & Providencia Provinces. The 411th deploys several aircraft in detachments in Palanquero (CACOM-1) and Apiay (CACOM-2) to work alongside resident units in COIN operations. Some reports indicate that only between five and 13 Dragonflies are airworthy, and there are plans to replace them with a modern light fighter. An interim solution is being sought, and at least a part of the 17 grounded airframes might receive an overhaul in the USA, as soon as additional anti-narcotic funds are available.

There is a permanent Dragonfly detachment with Grupo Aéreo del Caribe. It’s airfield, recently upgraded to Air Base status, has a strategic importance to Colombia as is a major centre of anti-narcotic operations. In the past, the San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina archipelago had been threatened by the Nicaraguan Sandinistas as it is a strategic point to block the Panama Canal. GACAR also has a permanent King Air detachment, equipped for maritime surveillance, and also houses Mirage and Kfir deployments.

A mixed fleet of Bell 212 helicopters, T-41D Mescalero observation and Queen Air and Bandeirante light transports form the 412th Squadron. This unit is tasked with patrol and support of ground forces, and are frequently reinforced by one of AC-47 Fantasmas on deployment from CACOM 1.

COMANDO AEREO DE COMBATE 4

Capitán Teniente-Coronel Luis Francisco Pinto Parra Air Base was the first helicopter base established in the country, and is situated in central Colombia. The Helicopter School was established there in 1954 with two Bell OH-13s and two Hiller OH-23. The base expanded quickly to operate close to 40 helicopters by the late 1950s.

The base continues to be the FAC principal helicopter operator, fielding SAR, training, troop transport, fire support, convoy escort, scout and CSAR units. CACOM 4 has two general purpose and one training squadron. The GP squadrons are dominated by the Bell Huey family that entered FAC-service in 1962. The FAC has recently taken delivery of the first batch of upgraded UH-1P Huey II – which are ex-US Army aircraft, armed with miniguns and rocket launchers. The main scout/attack helicopter is the lightweight Hughes family. Twelve Hughes 369HM/OH-6A Cayuses, ten McDonnell Douglas 500Ms and ten 500Cs, acquired in 1968, were reinforced by six MD-500MD Defenders 1986, and four MD.530MG, in 1989.

Hueys continue to be the main Colombian workhorse and Huey II kits will provide them with an additional lifespan. (Source: FAC)


COMANDO AEREO DE COMBATE 5

CACOM 5 has its headquarters at Base Militar Río Negro, southeast of Medellin. The Air Group is made up by a single squadron that operates helicopters. This unit, the 611th Squadron, is the sole Sikorsky UH-60A/L Blackhawk operator. This type is locally known as Halcón (Hawk). Colombia was the first Latin American customer for the Sikorsky Blackhawk, receiving six examples in March 1987. Further deliveries have brought the total up to 26, and these helicopters are tasked with assault and troop transport missions.

In 1998 the FAC issued a requirement for up to 12 additional attack helicopters that would escort its growing fleet of UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. The preferred model was ex-US Army Bell AH-1 Cobra or the MH-1W, a custom-made Super Cobra, developed by Bell for Latin American air forces. An US approval was not issued as swiftly as expected, and Colombia turned elsewhere looking for options. Sikorsky, Elbit and the FAC came up with an armed variant of the UH-60L, dubbed AH-60L Arpía III. The Arpía III has become the FAC’s flagship and its number will be increased through “Plan Colombia” funding.

Colombia was the first export customer for the Blackhawk in Latin America, it is also the largest user of the type. CSAR is a new role for Colombian Special Forces. (Source: FAC)


COMANDO AEREO DE COMBATE 6

CACOM 6 is the FAC latest development, designed to provide CAS to Army and National Police units operating in the south of the country. Its air group, Grupo Aereo del Sur (Southern Air Group), is specially tailored for anti-narcotic and COIN operations alongside the Peruvian and Brazilian borders.

COMANDO AÉREO DE TRANSPORTE MILITAR

The FAC airlift capability is centred on the Comando Aereo de Transporte Militar’s (CATAM) four transport squadrons and a military airline.

Squadron 711 is the heavy-lift unit, operating a mix of Lockheed C-130 Hercules and CN.235Ms. Colombia bought its first three Hercules in 1969 (serials FAC 1001 to 1003) from the Royal Canadian Air Force. Two of the original aircraft (FAC 1002 and 1003) where lost in accidents and replaced by two C-130H (FAC 1004 and 1005). The USAF provided further seven C-130Bs (serials FAC 1006 to 1012). In 2001 the USAF offered the FAC an additional C-130B (FAC 1014) and this was delivered in late 2002. CN-235Ms where ordered in 1996 to supplement the Hercules fleet and arrived in 1998, (serialled FAC 1260 to 1262). FAC has a requirement for a fourth example.

Colombia is one of the last military operators of the ancient Douglas C-47. The FAC received its first C-47’s in 1944 and eventually acquired no less but 43 examples. Five have been upgraded by Basler Turbo Conversions LLC to the C-47T/Basler-67 configuration, but their days in operational service are meanwhile numbered.

Light transport is the role of 712th Squadron, operating a variety of types that include the sole survivor of three IAI Aravas, bought from Israel in 1980, and a pair of Beech King Air and Queen Air’s amongst others. In the early 1990s the Colombian Government impounded some 350 different light aircraft and about 180 where transferred to its security forces, a number serving with this air group.

The Presidential Transport Squadron selected the Boeing 757 as a replacement for the Fokker F.28 Fellowship. The aircraft is serialled 001 and charged with most long-range presidential flights since 1972. In 2003 the FAC selected the BBJ as the new presidential jet. A Cessna Citation and a couple of Bell 412 helicopters are also operated by this squadron for different VIP’s.

A fourth Squadron, the Escuadrón de Reconocimiento Fotográfico (Photografic Recon Sq.), operates a Rockwell Aero Commander 695 and is probably also in charge of operating the fleet of Condor surveillance planes.

In November 1998 a Colombian C-130B, which makes regular weekly flight to Florida, was detained by US Customs officials in Fort Lauderdale. US Officials seized close to 600 kgs of cocaine that was hidden onboard: in the light of this affair the then FAC-Commander, Gen.l Manuel Sandoval, was forced to resign. This was not the first time that this sort of “incident” occurred in the COTAM. Up to four kilos of heroin were found aboard the presidential F.28 during a routine check-up before leaving for a UN summit to New York in 1996. There are rumours about the existence of a “Blue Cartel” (in reference to the FAC officer’s blue uniforms) but this has always been denied by the Colombian Government and Air Force.

In 1962 the FAC created a separate military airline, the Servicio de Aeronavegación a Territorios Nacionales – STAENA – in order to provide air travel services to underdeveloped and commercially unattractive regions of Colombia. Its first aircraft included a FAC-transferred Douglas C-54, two C-47s and two DHC-2 Beavers. SATENA continues to be a part of the FAC, reporting directly to the Ministry of Defence. It has a staff of 380, including 77 Air Force officers, and now includes its own fleet of nine Dornier 328s and three ERJ-145s, as well as some standard FAC types such as C-47’s, PC-6’s and C-212’s.

The CN-235M has replaced a few C-47's, filling a gap between the C-212 light and the C-130 tactical transports. (Source: FAC)


COMANDO AEREO DE MANTENIMIENTO

The main FAC Maintenance facility is located in Madrid and organized as an independent Command, Comando Aéreo de Mantenimiento - CAMAN. The base dates to 1924 when the original Air Force School was established there with the help of a Swiss Military mission. CAMAN has become the main overhaul and maintenance facility for the Colombian Armed forces, as well as for several local civilian companies. This last service has been available since 1993, when CAMAN obtained its commercial license.

CAMAN’s main project since 1997 has been the integration of new engines into the Huey II fleet. It was also responsible of developing an armament suite for four UH-60L Blackhawks in 1998, equipping each with four GAU-19 machine guns and 2 rocket launchers and the 1999 armament of AC-47T’s with GAU-19’s.

The UH-60L Arpía is the most sofisticated attack helicopter in the region. It is equipped with an Elbit weapons suite. (Source: FAC)


TRAINING

The Escuela Militar de Aviación (EMA - Air Force Academy) is under the direction of Col. Luis Fernando Medrano, who took office in January 2003. The EMA offers two courses: Air Administration and Aeronautical Engineering.

Since 1968 training syllabus at EMA consists of two years of basic studies, after which the cadets are introduced to primary flying training aboard Cessna T-41Ds of the 611th Squadron. Basic training is performed by 612th Squadron on old Beech T-34 Mentors, that have serve the FAC since 1954, but were modernized and refurbished in 1992, and again by the Chilean ENAER ever since. Advanced Flying Training is then conducted by 613th Squadron on motor-less IS-28B2, before cadets are being sent to an operational unit, either 215th with T-37C or 312th, equipped with Tucanos. Pilots destined for the rotary community are trained at the Helicopter School at Base Aerea Militar 5 by the 514th Squadron on Bell 47D and Enstrom F.28s.

The first generation of female pilots enrolled in January 1997 and graduated in December 2000.




FAC Inventory

FAC current strenght is 6,700, plus 1,900 conscripts and 1,900 reserves. Inventory is as follows.

Combat Aircraft:
- 19 Cessna A-37B Dragonfly
- 7 Cessna OA-37B Dragonfly
- 3 Cessna T-37B Tweet
- 3 Cessna T-37C Tweet
- 9 Dassault Breguet/IAI Mirage 5COAM
- 2 Dassault Breguet/IAI Mirage 5COD
- 2 Douglas AC-47 Fantasma
- 4 Douglas/Basler AC-47T Fantasma
- 4 Embraer EMB-312A Tucano
- 10 Israel Aircaft Industries K-fir C7
- 1 Israel Aircaft Industries K-fir TC7
- 11 Rockwell OV-10A Bronco

Surveillance Aircraft
- 5 Cessna 650 Citation
- 2 Fairchild C-26B Metro II
- 1 Raytheon Beech King Air 200
- 1 Rockwell Aero Commander 695
- 5 Schweizer SA2-37B Condor

Tanker Aircraft
- 1 Boeing 707-320C

Transport Aircraft
- 2 Beech King Air C90
- 2 Beech Queen Air B65
- 1 Boeing 737-700
- 2 CASA C-212 Aviocar 300 – SATENA
- 3 CASA C-212 Aviocar 300
- 3 CASA CN-235M-100
- 1 Cessna 550 Citation II
- 6 DASA Do-328-120 – SATENA
- 2 De Haviland Canada DHC-2U Beaver
- 2 Douglas C-47 Dakota
- 3 Douglas/Basler BT-67T Turbo-Dakota
- 2 Embraer EMB-110P1A Bandeirante
- 1 Embraer ERJ-145ER – SATENA
- 1 Fairchild SA-227 Metro
- 10 Gavilán 358
- 1 Israel Aircraft Industries Arava 201
- 7 Lockheed C-130B Hercules
- 2 Lockheed C-130H-30 Stretched Hercules
- 2 Pilatus PC-6B Turbo-Porter – SATENA

Training Aircraft
- 7 Beech T-34B Mentor
- 3 Beech/ENAER T-34A Mentor
- 2 Bell 47D Sioux
- 15 Cessna T-41D Mescalero
- 2 Cessna 310R
- 12 Enstrom F.28F Falcon
- 4 Hiller UH-12E Raven
- 2 McDonnell Douglas 500E

Miscellaneous Aircraft
- 1 Cessna 185 Floatplane
- 2 Cessna 210
- 1 Cessna 337G
- 1 Cessna 337H
- 1 Cessna 401
- 3 Cessna 404
- 1 Mitsubishi Mu-2
- 1 Piper PA-28 Cheyenne
- 2 Piper PA-31 Navajo
- 1 Piper PA-31T Navajo
- 1 Piper PA-32 Cherokee SIX
- 1 Piper PA-44 Seminole
- 2 Rockwell Turbo Commander 1000

Helicopters
- 6 Bell 205A-1 Iroquois
- 2 Bell 206L-3 Long Ranger III
- 15 Bell 212 Rapáz
- 3 Bell 412
- 8 Bell UH-1B Iroquois
- 21 Bell UH-1H Iroquois
- 38 Bell UH-1P Huey II
- 7 Hughes 369HM
- 5 Hughes 500C
- 2 Hughes 500M
- 6 McDonnell Douglas 500MD Defender
- 4 McDonnell Douglas 530MG Defender
- 7 Sikorsky AH-60L Arpía III
- 4 Sikorsky S-70A-41 Arpía II
- 10 Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk




FAC Order of Battle

Military Air Base No.1 Marco Fidel Suárez, Cali
Air Force Academy
- Escuadrón Primario 611 with T-41D
- Escuadrón Básico 612 with T-34B
- Escuadrón Avanzado 613 with Cessna 310R
- Escuadrón Aeromóvil 614 with UH-60L, MD-500 and MD-530

Military Air Base No.2 German Olan, Palanquero (Puerto Salgar)
Grupo 21
- Escuadrón de Combate 212 with Mirage 5
- Escuadrón de Combate 213 with K-fir
- Escuadrón Aerotáctico 214 with AC-67T Fantasma, Hughes 369, UH-1H and PA31
- Escuadrón de Combate 215 with T-37B/C Tweety Bird

Military Air Base No.3 Luis F. Gómez Niño, Apiay (Villavicencio)
Grupo 31
- Escuadrón de Operaciones Especiales 311 with OV-10
- Escuadrón de Combate 312 with Tucano
- Escuadrón Aerotáctico 313 with Hughes 369 and UH-1H

Military Air Base No.4, “Mayor General Alberto Pauwels Rodríguez” Barraquilla, Malambo
- Escuadrón de Combate 411 with A-37B
- Escuadrón de Aerotransporte 412 with Bell 212, T-41D Mescalero, Queen Air and EMB-110P1K

Military Air Base No.5 Capitán Teniente Coronel Luis Francisco Pinto Parra, Melgar, Tolima
Grupo 51
- Escuadrón de Medianos 511 with UH-1H, Bell 205A-1 and Bell 212
- Escuadrón de Medianos 512 with UH-60A, UH-1H and Bell 212
- Escuadrón Aerotáctico 513 with AH-60L, Hughes 369, MD-500 and MD-530
- Escuadrón de Entrenamiento 514 with F-28F Falcon and Bell 47D
- Escuadrón Aerotáctico 515 with Cessna, UH-1H and Hughes 369

Military Air Base No. 6 Capitán General Arturo Lema Posada, Rio Negro, Antioquia
Grupo 61
- Escuadrón Aerotáctico 611 with UH-60A/L Black Hawk

Military Air Base No.7 Aeropuerto Internacional “El Dorado”, Bogotá
Comando Aéreo de Transporte Militar
Grupo 71
- Escuadrón de Transporte 711 with C-130 and CN-235M
- Escuadrón de Transporte 712 with Arava, King Air and Cessna 550
- Escuadrón Presidencial with Boeing 737-700
- Escuadrón Aerofotográfico with Commander 695
- SATENA with C-212, PC-6, DHC-6

Air Base “Capitán Ernesto Esguerra Cubides”, Tres Esquinas, Caquetá

- Escuadrón de Enlace with DHC-2, C-47 and Commander

Air Base “Teniente Coronel Benjamín Méndez Rey”, San Andrés Island
Grupo Aéreo del Caribe
- Fighter deployments: Mirage 5COA, K-fir C-7 and A-37B

SATENA provides a vital transport capability - for Colombian military, but also for civilian population. This HS-748 has since been replaced by newer types such as EMB-145's and Dornier 328's. (Source: Jose Carreño)






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El Salvador, 1980-1992
Nicaragua, 1980-1988
El Salvador vs Honduras, 1969: The 100-Hour War
Cuban Crisis, 1962: ORBATs and OPLANs
Clandestine US Operations: Cuba, 1961, Bay of Pigs
Argentina, 1955-1965
Guatemala since 1954
Costa Rican Civil Wars: 1948 & 1955
Dominican Republic since 1945