Colombian Air Force

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Colombian Air Force
Fuerza Aérea Colombiana
Coat of arms of the Colombian Air Force
Coat of arms of the Colombian Air Force
Founded December 31, 1919
Country Colombia
Branch Air Force
Size 16,100 active personnel
281 aircraft[1]
Part of Colombian Armed Forces
Nickname FAC
Motto

Sic Itur Ad Astra – "Thus one reaches the stars"

"Somos la Fuerza" - "We are the Force"
Colors Sky Blue, Turquoise Blue
March COLOMBIAN AIR FORCE HYMN
Mascot CAPITAN PAZ
Anniversaries November 8
Engagements Colombia–Peru War
Colombian armed conflict
Commanders
Commander of the Air Force General Tito Saul Pinilla Pinilla
Second Commander and Chief of Staff General Flavio Enrique Ulloa Echeverry
Notable
commanders
Major General Alberto Alejandro Pauwels Rodriguez
Insignia
Roundel Colombian Air Force Roundel.svg
Flag Flag of the Air Force of Colombia.svg
Ensign Ensign of the Colombian Air Force.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack A-29, A-37, OV-10, AC-47
Fighter IAI Kfir
Attack helicopter AH-60, AB212 Rápaz
Reconnaissance SA2-37A/B, Skymaster C-337H, SK-350, SR-560, SR-26
Trainer T-34, T-41, T-27, T-90, Bell 206, OH-58 Kiowa
Transport C-130, C-295, CN-235, C-212

The Colombian Air Force or FAC (Spanish: Fuerza Aérea Colombiana) is the Air Force of the Republic of Colombia. The Colombian Air Force (FAC) is one of the three institutions of the Armed Forces of Colombia, charge according to the 1991 Constitution of the work to exercise and maintain control of Colombia's airspace to defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and constitutional order. It is one of the largest American air forces (after Brazil, Peru, Venezuela and U.S.) and increased activity due to its important role in the fight against narco-terrorism.

Air Force is the only global processes that have accredited with ISO 9001 and NTCGP 1000. The system corresponds to ISO 9001 quality management with the international standard, which inscribed the FAC as a world-class organization. The second certificate, the NTCGP 1000, corresponds to the technical standard of quality of governance, as a result of Act 872 of 2003 requires all public bodies to implement the quality management system by December 2008.

The FAC has the distinction of having been used in missions of observation and aerial combat from the Colombian-Peruvian war of 1932, never elected government was ousted by force, as the FAC helped quell many rebellions from terrorism, military and political . The Colombian Air Force also served with distinction during the Second World War in the islands of San Andrés.

History[edit]

Creation[edit]

Military aviation began in Colombia in 1919 with the creation of a military aviation school for the Colombian Army. Previously by Law 15 of 1916 of September 7 two commissions were sent overseas to study new technological advancements in aviation, infantry, cavalry, engineering and trains. Officers pertaining to the Colombian Army were also sent to take a course on flight training on techniques and tactics. The school was then created in Colombia along with the Colombian National Army Aviation as a fifth regiment by Law 126 of 1919 of December 31 authorized by President of Colombia, Marco Fidel Suárez. The unit was officially activated on February 15, 1921 in Flandes, Department of Tolima with the support of a French mission led by Lieutenant Colonel Rene Guichard. The Aviation School initially had 3 Caudron G.3 E-2, 3 Caudron G.4 A-2 and four Nieuport Delage 11 C-1. The school was closed due to financial hardships in 1922.

The School of Military Aviation was reopened on November 8, 1924 in Madrid, Department of Cundinamarca with the support of a Swiss mission headed by Captain Henry Pillichody. The aircraft used for training were 4 Wild WT and 8 Wild X performing the first air review on August 7, 1927. Then on December 28, 1928 the first combat aircraft was shown in Colombia, the Curtiss Falcon O-1.

War with Peru[edit]

The Hawk II F11C-origin, helped in fighting Guepí in Peruvian garrison, which lasted eight hours

On September 1, 1932 civilian Peruvians illegally crossed into Colombian territory and invaded the town of Leticia in the Colombian Amazon arguing and claiming that the town was original Peruvian territory. The Colombian military aviation only had 11 instructors, four Curtiss-Wright CW-14R Osprey air combat support planes and one Curtiss Falcon O-1. The military aviation then received full financial support from the Congress of Colombia. Colombia bought aircraft from Germany and the United States, while others were activated from the airline operating in Colombia SCADTA (Sociedad Colombo-Alemana de Transporte Aéreo) and their pilots, which included some German citizens, one of these was Major Herbert Boy. The imported aircraft were 4 Junkers F.13, 4 Junkers W 34 and 3 Junkers K 43, 6 Junkers Ju 52, 2 Dornier Merkur II, 4 Dornier Wal, 20 Curtiss Falcon F-8F and 30 Curtiss Hawk II F-11C.

The contingent was then sent to southern Colombia to fight Peruvian forces with the main mission of delivering supplies to the front lines, aerial reconnaissance and air to land attacks. The fleet was divided into three squadrons with Puerto Boy as the main camp site. Support bases were in Caucaya airstrip (Puerto Leguízamo), El Encanto, Puerto Arica, La Pedrera and Tarapacá. The main combat operations started on February 14, 1933 in Tarapacá where the Peruvian garrison was bombed by seven Colombian aircraft and later assaulted by land forces. Later, on March 26, in the village of Guepi eleven Colombian planes and two cannon boats (MC Cartagena y MC Santa Marta) bombarded Peruvian positions and took over the town.

The last military actions of the conflict with Peru were on May 8, 1933 and in which there was an aerial engagement between the two forces. Peruvian planes were attacking the fluvial fleet of Colombia over the Algodón River and were surprised by the Colombian squadron. One of the Peruvian aircraft, a Douglas O-38P was gunned down and taken to Colombian territory. On May 24, 1933 a cease fire was declared after an agreement was reached with the intervention of the League of Nations. The town of Leticia was returned to Colombia. The captured plane was then returned to Peru. As a result of the war, four pilots died in four accidents during non-combat related actions. Among these was one of the German pilots. Four planes were lost in these accidents a Falcon O-1, an Osprey C-14, a Junker F-13 and a Curtiss F-11.

World War II[edit]

The AT-6 Texan U.S. origin served as a support during the Second World War, defending the country's Caribbean coast
Thunderbolt F-47D of the Colombian Air Force in 1946

The Second World War was the diplomatic breach between Colombia and the Axis countries (Germany, Italy and Japan), December 18, 1941, when President Eduardo Santos took the decision following the Japanese attack on military bases, naval and U.S. carriers at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Thereafter, the Colombian government introduced special measures to limit and counter the Axis military action in areas of national jurisdiction. However, the June 23, 1942 a German submarine attacked and sank the schooner Colombian "Resolute", 50 miles northwest of the island of San Andrés. The same schooner had rescued some Marine officers and 23 British Royal Navy survivors of a capsized ship, 200 miles north of Cartagena just five days before.

Following these events, the government took the decision to patrol and monitor the Pacific Coast and the Colombian Caribbean coast. The Palanquero Air Base commanders decided to move one fighter squadron and a Combat Reconnaissance Squadron, consisting of F-8 Falcon aircraft, to Barranquilla,. In 1943, the Falcons were relieved of their mission and replaced by the AT-6 Texan. This Squadron was active until 1945, when the AT-6 were transferred back to Palanquero Air Base.

Early 1930s to present[edit]

  • While the war was ongoing in southern Colombia, the Air Force built bases in the towns of Buenaventura and Cartagena. The base in Buenaventura was dubbed Air Base of the Pacific and covered the area of the Colombian Pacific region by the Pacific Ocean and began operations on January 26, 1933. The main purpose of this base was to protect the Pacific coast from any maritime intervention since there were reports that the Peruvian protected cruiser BAP Almirante Grau was patrolling the area, as well as two submarines. The Buenaventura base closed in 1949 while the base in Cartagena was handed over to the Colombian Navy in 1936 becoming the ARC Bolívar Naval Base, the most important naval base in Colombia.
  • During World War II, North American T-6 Texans and Boeing PT-17 Stearmans were received from the USA for pilot training. Soon after World War Two, the Aviación Militar became an independent part of the armed forces, and the Colombian Air Force was created.
  • During the period of La Violencia, The Air Force had the necessity to expand its radius of action, so in 1947 the aeródromo nacional de Apiay was created, named the 17 of November 1948 Base Aérea de Apiay, today it home of the Comando Aéreo de Combate No. 2. In this period, the Air Force became more involved in counterinsurgency tasks and B-26C Invaders were acquired. Also, in 1954, the jet age began for the Colombian Air Force with the arrival of Silver Star T-33 and six Canadian Sabre Mark IV F-86. The F-86 were retired from service 1966, while the T-33 continued to operate until 1972 when 18 Mirage 5 fighters arrived in three different versions. Sixteen F-80 Shooting Stars were also delivered.
  • In 1952, Hiller UH-12 helicopters arrived to the country, initially acquired for the Ministerio de Obras Públicas, but later assigned to the Air Force. In consequence, in 1954, the first helicopter base was created in Melgar, Tolima. Nowadays this base is known as Base Aérea “Capitán Luis F. Gómez Niño”, home of the Comando Aéreo de Combate No. 4 and the Joint Helicopter School of the Armed Forces. In 1959, with the inauguration of the El Dorado International Airport, the Base Aérea de Transporte Militar was created, later renamed as Base Aérea “Brigadier General Camilo Daza”, home today of the Comando Aéreo de Transporte Militar (CATAM). In 1962 in order to integrate economically and socially the furthest regions of the country the Servicio Aéreo a Territorios Nacionales Satena was created.
  • Further expansion took place in the eighties with considerable deliveries of the A-37 Dragonfly, which earned fame over Vietnam. At the end of the decade a batch of Kfir C2 fighters was delivered from Israel and subsequently upgraded to Kfir C7 by the Comando Aéreo de Mantenimiento (CAMAN) in Madrid in the nineties. The Mirages were upgraded to the same standard by CAMAN, with the installation of canards and improved fuel systems. Both types are also equipped for air-to-air refuelling from the FAC's sole Boeing 707 tanker and transport aircraft. The nineties saw the delivery of specialised COIN-aircraft like the OV-10A Bronco and Embraer Tucano trainers, some of the latter are able to carry bombs and unguided rockets. These aircraft operate mainly over the east of the country, where the Los Llanos region has a high level of guerrilla activity. They regularly deploy to Puerto Carreño under the command of the Grupo Aéreo del Oriente formed in 2000. To deal with continuing guerrilla activity Escuadrones Aerotácticos (tactical squadrons) were formed at the main FAC bases in the late nineties, consisting of several types of helicopters and AC-47 gunships supplied by their respective Grupos.
A Colombian Air Force AH-60L firing its flares
  • The 1999 'Plan Colombia' emphasizes on technology, rather than on large numbers of new aircraft being procured, although several new UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters (dubbed Arpía in Colombian service) entered FAC service in recent years. Other recently acquired types include Schweizer SA2-37A Condors and Cessna 560 Citations equipped with cameras and sensors to monitor guerrilla and narcotic related activities. Technology upgrades are scheduled for the Bronco fleet, the venerable AC-47 gunships and Huey-helicopters.

Organization[edit]

Mapa fac.GIF

Combat Air Commands (Comando Aéreo de Combate or CACOM):

Transportation and Maintenance:

Air Groups:

Training:

Airline:

Personnel[edit]

As of 2010,[1] the Air Force fields approximately 13,500 personnel, including 2,171 officers, 3,304 Non-commissioned officers, 903 student officers, 4,673 soldiers, these usually allocated to base security, Military Police etc., and 2,382 civilians, the latter usually dedicated to specialized technical or professional activities, e.g. medical, communications, etc.

Ranks & Insignias[edit]

The tables below display the rank structures and rank insignias for the Colombian Air Force personnel.[27]

Ranks and Insignias – Colombian Air Force

Officers[edit]

NATO code[n 1] OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1
 Colombia No Equivalent General col fuerza aerea.svg Teniente general col fuerza aerea.svg Mayor general col fuerza aerea.svg Brigadier general col air force.svg Coronel col fuerza aerea.svg Teniente coronel col fuerza aerea.svg Mayor col fuerza aerea.svg Capitan col fuerza aerea.svg Teniente col fuerza aerea.svg Subteniente col fuerza aerea.svg
Spanish General del Aire Teniente General del Aire Mayor General del Aire Brigadier General del Aire Coronel Teniente Coronel Mayor Capitán Teniente Subteniente
Abbr. GR TG MG BG CR TC MY CT TE ST
English - General of the Air Lieutenant General of the Air Major General of the Air Brigadier General of the Air Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second Lieutenant

Non-Commissioned Officers and Airmen[edit]

NATO code[n 1] OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
 Colombia Tecnico jefe de comando fuerza aerea.svg Tecnico jefe de comando fuerza aerea.svg Tecnico jefe fuerza aerea.svg Tecnico subjefe fuerz aerea.svg Tecnico primero fuerza aerea.svg Tecnico segundo fuerza aerea.svg Tecnico tercero fuerza aerea.svg Tecnico cuarto fuerza aerea.svg Aerotecnico fuerza aerea.svg No equivalent
Spanish Técnico Jefe de Comando Conjunto Técnico Jefe de Comando Técnico Jefe Técnico Subjefe Técnico Primero Técnico Segundo Técnico Tercero Técnico Cuarto Aerotécnico
Abbr. TJCC TJC TJ TS TP T2 T3 T4 AT
English Joint Command Chief Technician Command Chief Technician Senior Chief Technician Chief Technician Technician First Class Technician 2nd Class Technician 3rd Class Junior Technician Airman

Aircraft inventory[edit]

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[28] Notes
Combat aircraft
IAI Kfir  Israel Fighter/attack C.12/C.10
TC.10 (in Colombia denominated Kfir COA)
21
KFIR FAC3034.JPG
Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano  Brazil Combat/Counter Insurgency A-29B 24
A-29 Super Tucano of the Colombian Air Force
North American OV-10 Bronco  United States Combat/Counter Insurgency OV-10A 9
OV-10 FAC.JPG
Douglas DC-3  United States Combat/Counter Insurgency Basler Turbo AC-47 T Fantasma 6 Locally known as Fantasma (Ghost)
AC-47 Fantasma.jpg
Cessna A-37B Dragonfly  United States Combat/Counter Insurgency A-37B / OA-37B 15
Total Combat Aircraft 77
Trainers
Cessna T-37 Tweet  United States Trainer T-37B /T-37C 17[28]
T-37 FAC2122.jpg
Embraer EMB-312 Tucano  Brazil Attack/Trainer AT-27 14
T-27 Tucano FAC2250.JPG
Lancair Legacy  United States Trainer T-90 Calima 25 More being built in Colombia
Bell 206  United States Trainer helicopter Bell 206B-III 12
Bell OH-58 Kiowa  United States Trainer helicopter 4
[29]
Total Trainer Aircraft 72
Transports
Boeing 767  United States Transport Tanker KC-767 1
Colombian Air Force Boeing KC-767-2J6ER Lofting-1.jpg
Boeing 727  United States Transport 2
Boeing Business Jet  United States Transport BBJ 737 1
Columbia Air Force Boeing B737-74V(BBJ) FAC 0001 (4391486421).jpg
Boeing 737  United States Transport 737-400F 2
Colombian Air Force Boeing 737-700BBJ Smith.jpg
IAI Arava  Israel Utility transport Arava 201 1
Colombian Air Force Israel Aircraft Industries IAI-201 Arava Ramirez.jpg
Lockheed C-130 Hercules  United States Tactical transport C-130B/C-130H 7
Lockheed C-130H Hercules, Colombia - Air Force JP7410603.jpg
CASA C-212 Aviocar  Spain Tactical transport C-212-300 3
EADS CASA C-295  Spain Tactical transport C-295M 4 1 to be delivered February 2013. Another ordered in January 2013 .[30]
Cessna 208 Caravan  United States Liaison 11
CASA CN-235  Spain Tactical transport CN-235-200 3
C-212 FAC 1262.JPG
Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante  Brazil Transport EMB 110P1A 2
Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante.JPG
Embraer KC-390  Brazil Transport 0 12 ordered
Beechcraft King Air  United States Transport King Air 90
King Air 350
11
Beechcraft B300 King Air 350, Colombia - Air Force JP7506114.jpg
Piper PA-31 Navajo  United States Utility transport 1
Turbo Commander  United States Transport 2
Fokker F28  Netherlands VIP transport F28-1000/F28-3000 2
FAC 0002.jpg
Cessna Citation II  United States VIP transport 550 Citation II 1
Cessna Citation Ultra  United States AWACS 560 Citation Ultra 1
Cessna 560 Citation V, Colombia - Air Force JP7612555.jpg
Total Transport Aircraft 49
Helicopter
Bell 205  United States Utility helicopter 2[28]
Bell 212 Twin Huey  United States Transport helicopter 10
Bell UH-1  United States Transport helicopter UH-1H 20
McDonnell Douglas MD 500 Defender  United States Combat helicopter 369HM/MD 530FF 4
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk  United States Transport helicopter and Combat helicopter UH-60L/AH-60 Arpía 10
Arpia III.jpg
Reconnaissance and Intelligence
Cessna 208  United States reconnaissance 6[28]
Cessna Citation V  United States reconnaissance Citation Ultra 5
Beechcraft Super King Air  United States ELINT Super King Air 300/350 3 More King Air 350s under consideration [31]
Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner  United States reconnaissance Metro 23 1
Turbo Commander  United States reconnaissance 2
Total Reconnaissance and Intelligence 17
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Boeing Insitu ScanEagle  United States reconnaissance 6[32]
Silver Fox UAV  United States reconnaissance 3 on order [33]
Elbit Hermes 450  Israel reconnaissance 1 on order [34]
Elbit Hermes 900  Israel reconnaissance 1 on order [34]
Satena
Dornier Do328-100  Germany Airliner 33 seats 6
ATR 42-500  France Airliner 46 seats 2
Embraer ERJ 145  Brazil Airliner 50 seats 2
Embraer 170  Brazil Airliner 76 seats 2
Total Satena Aircraft 12
Total Aircraft in service
Total Aircraft in service 281

FAC is not Colombia's exclusive operator of military aircraft, other inventories are maintained by the Colombian Army, Colombian Navy, and the Colombian National Police. Due to its responsibilities the Colombian National Army Aviation operates the biggest helicopter inventory in Colombia.

Aircraft identification[edit]

Super Tucano to the Colombian Air Force. these aircraft were acquired in 2006

The aircraft used by the Colombian Air Force are identified with the letters "FAC" followed by three or four numbers that are painted on the tail, nose and nose landing gear doors. The serial numbers are assigned according to the aircraft's primary role as follows:

  • 001 Avión Presidencial
  • 002 to 100 trainer
  • 101 to 200 liaison
  • 201 to 300 helicopter
  • 301 to 500 miscellaneous
  • 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 transport
  • 2001 to 2300 Close support
  • 2501 to 2600 bomber
  • 3001 to 3100 Fighter
  • 3101 to 3200 COIN
  • 4001 to 4600 helicopter
  • 5001 to 5600 liaison
  • 5701 to 5800 recon/ELINT

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Colombia is not a member of NATO, so there is not an official equivalence between the Colombian military ranks and those defined by NATO. The displayed parallel is approximate and for illustration purposes only.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ministerio de Defensa Nacional,Colombia (1 November 2010). "Logros de la Política de Consolidación de la Seguridad Democrática, 2010" (in (Spanish)). Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  2. ^ (Spanish) CACOM 1 – Puerto Salgar (Cundinamarca) – Comando Aéreo de Combate No.1
  3. ^ (Spanish) Capitán Germán Olano Moreno
  4. ^ (Spanish) CACOM 2 – Apiay (Meta) – Comando Aéreo de Combate No.2
  5. ^ (Spanish) Capitán Luis F. Gómez Niño
  6. ^ (Spanish) CACOM 3 – Malambo (Atlántico) – Comando Aéreo de Combate No.3
  7. ^ (Spanish) Mayor General Alberto Pauwels Rodríguez
  8. ^ (Spanish) CACOM 4 – Melgar (Tolima) – Comando Aéreo de Combate No.4
  9. ^ (Spanish) Teniente Coronel Luis Francisco Pinto Parra
  10. ^ (Spanish) CACOM 5 – Rionegro (Antioquia) – Comando Aéreo de Combate No.5
  11. ^ (Spanish) Coronel Fernando Arturo Lema Posada
  12. ^ (Spanish) CACOM 6 – Tres Esquinas (Caquetá) – Comando Aéreo de Combate No.6
  13. ^ (Spanish) Capitán Ernesto Esguerra Cubides
  14. ^ (Spanish) CATAM – Aeropuerto El Dorado (Bogotá D.C) – Comando Aéreo de Transporte Militar
  15. ^ (Spanish) Brigadier General (H) Camilo Daza Álvarez
  16. ^ (Spanish) CAMAN – Madrid (Cundinamarca) – Comando Aéreo de Mantenimiento
  17. ^ (Spanish) Mayor (H) Justino Mariño Cuesto
  18. ^ (Spanish) GACAR – San Andrés Isla (San Andrés, Providencia y Santa Catalina) – Grupo Aéreo del Caribe
  19. ^ (Spanish) Teniente Coronel Benjamín Méndez Rey
  20. ^ (Spanish) GAORI – Marandua (Vichada) – Grupo Aéreo del Oriente
  21. ^ (Spanish) Coronel Luis Arturo Rodríguez Meneses
  22. ^ (Spanish) EMAVI – Santiago de Cali (Valle) – Escuela Militar de Aviación
  23. ^ (Spanish) Marco Fidel Suárez
  24. ^ (Spanish) ESUFA – Madrid (Cundinamarca) – Escuela de Suboficiales FAC
  25. ^ (Spanish) Captain Andres Maria Diaz Diaz
  26. ^ (Spanish) IMA – Instituto Militar Aeronáutico
  27. ^ Congreso de la República de Colombia (28 July 2010). "Ley 1405 de 2010 Nuevos Grados Militares" (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  28. ^ a b c d World Air Forces 2013 - Flightglobal.com, pg 12-13, December 11, 2012
  29. ^ Colombia; Air Force incepts OH-58 to service - Dmilt.com, 28 November 2013
  30. ^ Colombian air force to boost C295 fleet to six transports - Flightglobal.com, January 14, 2013
  31. ^ Colombia; CAF interested in King-Air-350 recce. variant - Dmilt.com, 10 October 2013
  32. ^ Colombia; US donates ScanEagle UAV's to FAC - Dmilt.com, March 19, 2013
  33. ^ Colombia; FAC orders Silver Fox UAV - Dmilt.com, 2 July 2013
  34. ^ a b La Fuerza Aérea de Colombia confirma finalmente la recepción de los UAVs Hermes 900 y 450 de Elbit Systems - Infodefensa.com, 24 July 2013

External links[edit]