Mexican Naval Aviation

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Fuerza AeroNaval
Mexican Naval Aviation
Active since 1918
Country Mexico Mexico
Branch Mexican Navy
Type Naval aviation
Role Aerial Surveillance, Troop Transport, Search and Rescue
Mexican Naval Roundel.svg

The Mexican Naval Aviation (Spanish: Fuerza AeroNaval ) or FAN literally meaning Naval Air Force, is the naval air arm of the Mexican Navy. The Mexican Navy is divided into two naval fleets: Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.[1][2]


Naval aviation for Mexico dates back its roots all the way to 1918, when an indigenous made float biplane was successfully tested at the Port of Veracruz, the aircraft was flown by Carlos Santa Ana. In the year 1926 a squadron of float planes were designed and made for the Mexican Navy, but without personnel. Carlos Castillo Breton, became the very first Naval pilot in 1927 after training in The U.S. and in Mexico. Between 1927 to 1943, some aircraft were acquired, with a total of seven naval officers gaining their wings, although some of these joined the Mexican Air Force. World War II saw the creation of the Naval Aviation school in 1943 at Las Bajadas, Veracruz. These were also ex-FAM aircraft, used to patrol the Gulf of Mexico for German submarines and were later used for training at the Naval Aviation School.

Years after the war, the role of Mexican Naval Aviation were assigned as supporting the ground and sea naval units in Search & Rescue, coastal patrol and assistance to the general population in case of emergencies or disasters.

Times of Modernization[edit]

In the nineties, the Mexican navy started to acquire Russian built aircraft and helicopters like the Mil Mi-2, Mil Mi-8 and Antonov An-32B, also purchasing French, U.S. and German made helicopters and even Finnish built L-90 Redigo. In 1999, the Mexican navy started a programme to build kit planes and light helicopters at Las Bajadas, Veracruz.

As of 2001, Mexican naval aviation reported to have 118 aircraft, of which 68 are fixed wing in 9 squadrons and 50 helicopters in 9 squadrons, either in land bases or assigned on board of ocean patrol boats and frigates.

More recent purchases to the fleet were three ex-IDF/AF E-2C Hawkeyes, the first arriving in early July 2004. At the end of the same month, the first two EADS upgraded C212-200 Aviocars flew back to Mexico, with the remainder six being upgraded at BAN Las Bajadas. The most recent purchase are two AS565 Panthers. These helicopters will perform shipborne duties.[3]


The factor of the country's geographical position, requires the deployment of units and aircraft facilities, allowing The Mexican Navy to exercise its naval power.[4]

Gulf of Mexico Naval Air Force - HQ in Tuxpan, Veracruz

Pacific Naval Air Force - HQ in Manzanillo, Colima

Mexico City Naval Air Base

Aircraft fleet[edit]

Current aircraft[edit]

The aircraft quantities are approximate,[5][6] and estimated to be 68 airplanes and 57 helicopters.[7][8][9]

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service Image
Combat aircraft
Valmet L-90  Finland Combat/Counter Insurgency L-90TP 8
Redigo 01.jpg
Zlin Z-242  Czech Republic Training Z-242L 8[10]
Maule M-7  United States Training MX-7-180A 8
Antonov An-32  Ukraine Tactical transport An-32B 3
Mexican Navy Antonov An-32B 2009 Belyakov.jpg
CASA C-295[11]  Spain Tactical transport C295M 4
Bombardier Dash 8  Canada Tactical transport DH-8 1
Turbo Commander  United States Transport 980 Turbo 4
Aero Commander.jpg
Learjet  United States VIP transport LJ25 1
Learjet 25 der NASA.jpg
Learjet  United States VIP transport LJ31 2
Learjet  United States VIP transport LJ60 1
Gulfstream IV  United States VIP transport G450 1 G450-AMT-205-0310.jpg
Beechcraft King Air  United States Utility transport 350ER 1[12]
Reconnaissance and Intelligence
CASA C-212  Spain Surveillance C-212-400 7[13]
CASA CN 212-200 N497CA 13.JPG
CASA CN-235  Spain Surveillance CN-235MP 300 2
Irish Air Corps CASA aircraft, Newcastle, County Down, August 2010 (01).JPG
Lancair  United States Reconnaissance IV-P
Super ES
Legacy 2000
Bölkow Bo 105  Germany Surveillance EC-Super Five 11
Mexican BO-105 Bolkow helicopter fires 2.75 inch high-explosive rockets at the ex-USS Connolly (DD 979).jpg
Eurocopter Caracal  France Search & rescue EC-725AP 3[9]
Eurocopter Fennec  France Search & rescue AS555AF 2
Eurocopter Panther  France Combat AS656MB 4
MD Helicopters MD 500  United States Training MD-500 4
Md helicopters md-500e g-sscl arp.jpg
Mil Mi-2  Russia Transport Mi-2 Hopite 1
Krzesiny 106RB.JPG
Mil Mi-17  Russia Transport Mi-17IV/V5 23
MD Helicopters MD Explorer  United States Combat MD-902 6
Calstar MD Explorer 02.jpg
Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk  United States Transport and combat UH-60M 3[14]
UAV SEMAR  Mexico Reconnaissance/Intelligence T1 / T2 / T3 3

Recent purchases[edit]

Aircraft Origin Type Version On Order Notes Images
EADS CASA  Spain surveillance CASA CN-235 6 + 4 6 purchased by Mexico,[15][16][17] and 4 from the Mérida Initiative aide package.[14]
Mi-17  Russia Transport helicopter Mi-17V5 3