Air Vigilance Service

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There is officially no Air Force of Costa Rica; the only air wing in existence is attached to the Public Forces of Costa Rica. Currently this unit, officially called Air Vigilance Service (Spanish:Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea (SVA)), also called the Air Service (Servicio Aéreo), does not operate any armed military aircraft. Its main air bases located in three different points, San José (Base 2) being the main operations center. The aircraft and helicopters used by this unit include a few Cessna 210s, Cessna 206s, Piper PA-31T Cheyennes, Piper PA-34 Senecas and Hughes 500s (369E), as well as very modern MD Helicopters MD 600s.

Mission and Functions[edit]

The SVA has as mission to:

"Provide air support in security actions carried out by police forces, in humanitarian missions, transfers of government officials; Provide security and surveillance in the country's airports to protect domestic and foreign citizens."

Some of the most common functions of the SVA are transporting civilians in critical medical emergencies to the hospitals in the capital as well as helping in the war on drugs. Plenty of drug trafficking operations are carried in joint agreement with the U.S., mainly occurring in the coastal areas and at sea.

According to a new bill yet to be passed by the Legislative Assembly, the new designation for this police air wing would be Policia de Vigilancia Aérea (Air Vigilance Police).


Costa Rica is one of the oldest democracies in the region. With is army abolished on December 1, 1949, just after the end of a revolution that reformed the country's structures. The internal security was in charge of a Civil Guard that, over the years, was transformed into what it is now, the Public Forces of Costa Rica, which is under the command of the Ministry of Public Security and that is Composed of several departments: Public Force, Anti-Drug Police, National Coast Guard Service, National Police School, Reserve of the Public Force and the Air Surveillance Service, worthy successor of the Costa Rican Air Force. In 1958 the air wing was created with a Cessna 180 for the transfer of government officials and in 1962 it acquired three Cessna 185. Later in 1970 it incorporated a helicopter for presidential use. In 1994 it was renamed the Air Vigilance Service (Spanish:Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea, SVA), with 15 aircraft.

Air Surveillance Service equipment[edit]

As a result of the many operations against drug trafficking, a number of aircraft have been added to the asset list by means of confiscation. The U.S. has also donated aircraft, equipment and logistic support. The prefix for most aircraft is MSP followed by a serial number.

Aircraft Type Versions In service[1] Notes
Aero Commander 695 Utility transport 695 1
Cessna 206 Utility 206G 2
Cessna 207 Utility 1
de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou Tactical transport 1
MD Helicopters MD 500 Utility helicopter MD 500E 2
MD Helicopters MD 600 Utility helicopter MD 600 2
Piper PA-31 Navajo Utility 3
Piper PA-34 Seneca Utility PA-34-200T 1
Harbin Y-12 Utility Y-12E 2 (2016)[2]



  1. ^ "World Military Aircraft Inventory", Aerospace Source Book 2007, Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 15, 2007.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Air Surveillance Service Costa Rica web page". Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  4. ^ "Costa Rica Air Force". Archived from the original on 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 

External links[edit]