Peruvian Air Force

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Peruvian Air Force
Fuerza Aérea del Perú
Peruvian Air Force Coat of Arms.png
Coat of arms of the Peruvian Air Force
Active 1929 (as Peruvian Aviation Corps)
Country  Peru
Part of Peruvian Ministry of Defense
Nickname(s) "FAP"
Engagements Colombia–Peru War 1932 – 1933
Ecuadorian-Peruvian war (1941)
Paquisha War 1981
Falklands War 1982
Cenepa War 1995
Internal conflict in Peru 1980– 2015
Commanders
Commander-In-Chief Dante Antonio Arévalo Abate
Chief of Staff Julio Valdez Pomareda
Inspector General Javier Ramírez Guillen
Insignia
Roundel Roundel of Peru.svg
Flag Flag of the Peruvian Air Force.png
Aircraft flown
Attack Su-25, A-37B
Fighter MiG-29, Mirage 2000
Attack helicopter Mi-25D, Mi-35P
Patrol C-26B
Reconnaissance Learjet 36
Trainer MB-339, EMB-312, Zlin 242L
Transport An-32B, C-130 Hercules, Y-12, Boeing 737, DHC-6, PC-6

The Peruvian Air Force (Spanish: Fuerza Aérea del Perú, FAP) is the branch of the Peruvian Armed Forces tasked with defending the nation and its interests through the use of air power. Additional missions include assistance in safeguarding internal security, conducting disaster relief operations and participating in international peacekeeping operations.

History[edit]

On May 20, 1929, the aviation divisions of the Peruvian Army and Navy were merged into the Cuerpo de Aviación del Perú (Peruvian Aviation Corps, abbreviated CAP). During the Colombia-Peru War of 1933, its Vought O2U Corsair and Curtiss F11C Hawk planes fought in the Amazon region. The CAP lost three aircraft to the Colombian Air Force . The corps was renamed Cuerpo Aeronáutico del Perú (Peruvian Aeronautical Corps, also abbreviated CAP) on March 12, 1936.

1941 Ecuadorian invasion of Peru[edit]

In 1941, the CAP participated in the Peruvian-Ecuadorian War. At that time, the CAP were equipped with Caproni Ca.114 and North American NA.50 Torito fighters, Douglas DB-8A-3P attack aircraft, and Caproni Ca.135 Tipo Peru and Caproni Ca.310 Libeccio bombers,[1] among others.

The Peruvian Air Force had also established a paratroop unit during the war and used it to great effect by seizing the strategic Ecuadorian port city of Puerto Bolívar, on July 27, 1941, marking the first time in the Americas that airborne troops were use in combat.[2]

Lieutenant José A. Quiñones was a Peruvian pilot during the war. On July 23, 1941, his plane, a North American NA-50 fighter, was hit while performing a low-level attack on an Ecuadorian border post on the banks of the Zarumilla river. According to traditional Peruvian accounts, Quiñones, upon being hit by ground fire, crashed his damaged aircraft deliberately into the Ecuadorian anti-aircraft position, destroying it. He was promoted posthumously to Captain, and is today considered a National Hero of Peru.[citation needed]

Cold War[edit]

During the 1950s presidency of General Manuel A. Odría, the Peruvian Air Force was reorganized and on July 18, 1950 had its name changed to the Fuerza Aérea del Perú (Air Force of Peru, or FAP). Peru was an ally of the United States during this period, and was predominantly equipped with aircraft built in the US and Great Britain. By the end of General Odria's presidency, the FAP ushered in the Jet Age with the introduction of English Electric Canberra bombers and Hawker Hunter, Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star and North American F-86 Sabre fighters.

However, on October 3, 1968 a military junta led by pro-Soviet Peruvian Army General Juan Velasco Alvarado organized a swift and bloodless coup d'état against president Fernando Belaúnde Terry. Velasco aligned Peru more closely with the Soviet Bloc and relations with the United States deteriorated. The US declared an arms embargo in 1969, making it difficult to obtain spare parts for Peru's American weaponry. In the 1970s and 1980s, Peru turned to the Soviet Union for its military hardware. During this time, the FAP acquired several Soviet-made aircraft, including Sukhoi Su-22 fighters, Antonov An-26 and An-32 transport aircraft, as well as Mil Mi-8, Mi-17, Mi-25 and Mi-26 helicopters. Soviet advisors were also dispatched to Peru.

Velasco was overthrown by other military officers in 1975 and Belaúnde returned to power as a civilian president in 1980. The FAP purchased the French-made Mirage 5P and 5DP and the Mirage 2000 in 1984. Relations improved with the United States and the FAP obtained American aircraft like the Cessna A-37B Dragonfly attack aircraft, as well as Lockheed C-130 and L-100-20 Hercules transport aircraft.

Stagnation[edit]

The stagnation of the Peruvian economy during the late 1980s and early 1990s forced cost reductions and the downsizing of the fleet size. Budget cuts in training meant Peruvian pilots had a low number of annual flying hours (AFH) per pilot if compared to the 1970s. The number of annual flying hours is of course very important in estimating the individual skill and experience of the pilots of an air force: more annual flying hours suggests better trained pilots and general readiness. There are also a number of possible explanations for FAP`s low AFH: concern over the aging of equipment, scarcity of spare parts – especially for the older aircraft – difficulties with worn airframes and the scarcity of fuel are all contributing factors. It is very likely however that some 'elite' pilots and regiments such as those based in Talara AFB and La Joya AFB received considerably more flying hours. Especially since those regiments until today are equipped with modern aircraft and tasked with homeland defence.

Cenepa War[edit]

In 1995 the Peruvian Air Force fought the Cenepa War against Ecuador's FAE in the Amazonian skies ill-equipped, having five fighter planes and three attack helicopters shot down by the Ecuadorians.

Revival[edit]

In 1997 and 1998 however things started to change for better in FAP's outlook. In order to achieve Fujimori's colossal military bold plans meant FAP getting a much needed general overhaul and new purchases.[3]

1997 and 1998 purchases[edit]

Therefore, it is correct to state that the FAP was revived after 1995.

In 1997 the FAP acquired from Belarus 21 MiG-29 fighters and 18 Su-25 attack fighters.

In 1998 an additional 3 MiG-29 fighters were bought from Russia which along with the 12 Mirage 2000 fighters purchased from France's Dassault Aviation in 1984, makes a total of 54 fighters in Peru's inventory.

Peru's Mirage 2000C/B and MiG-29S fighters form the backbone of its current multi-role fighter fleet, alongside old SU-22 strike fighters and specialized SU-25 close air support jets.

The Mirages were bought from France in 1984, while the MiG-29s arrived via a disastrous 1995 deal with Belarus. Fortunately, Peru patched things up with Russia, and RAC MiG agreed to provide service and support.

These purchases have been expensive, and a number of observers have questioned their usefulness against more pressing security concerns, like Peru's fanatical Marxist Sendero Luminoso ("Shining Path") guerrillas. On the other hand, the FAP still remembers the 1995 Canepa War with Ecuador, and its Russian fighters are stationed very close to that border at Chiclayo AFB and Talara AFB.

Its Mirage 2000Ps sit at La Joya AFB near the border with Bolivia and Chile; the 3 Andean countries have a minor 3-way maritime borders dispute, and residual tensions with historical foe Chile have been a long-running theme in Peru.

In 2008, RAC MiG began the upgrade of FAP's MiG fleet to the MiG-29SMT external link standard.

In 2009, Dassault began working with Peru on a comprehensive inspection of the Mirage fleet, coupled with some electronics modernization.

Potential purchases[edit]

Finally, since 2013 Peru is in talks with European suppliers as part of a long-term plan of replacing FAP's aging air force aircraft with second-hand Su-35, Rafale or Eurofighters. Hitherto, FAP was exploring the possibility of buying as many as 60 Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 from Spain[4] and 60 Sukhoi 35 from Russia.[5] Cost was a major issue for Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, who was looking at competitively priced fighter jets that will fit the national budget.

Organization[edit]

The current Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force of Peru is General Jaime Marin Figueroa Olivos. Aerial forces are subordinated to the Ministry of Defense and ultimately to the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Peruvian Armed Forces. Operational units are organized as follows:

Ala Aérea Nº 1[edit]

A lineup of Peruvian Sukhoi Su-25s, the country's main attack aircraft.
Alenia C-27J Spartan are the backbone of the airlift operations

1st Air Wing, headquartered at Piura

Peruvian KAI KT-1P Woongbi with the Escuadrón Aéreo 512.
  • Grupo Aéreo Nº 6 (6th Air Group) based at Chiclayo
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 612 (Fighter Squadron 612 "Fighters Cocks") – operating MiG-29S/SE/SMP/UBP
  • Grupo Aéreo Nº 7 (7th Air Group) based at Piura
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 711 (Fighter Squadron 711 "Scorpions") – operating A-37B
  • Grupo Aéreo Nº 11 (11th Air Group) based at Talara
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 111 (Fighter Squadron 111) – Su-22M/UM (decommissioned in 2007)
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 112 (Fighter Squadron 112 "Tigers") – operating Su-25/UB

Ala Aérea Nº 2[edit]

Fairchild C-26BM are used for ELINT operations

2nd Air Wing, headquartered at Callao

  • Grupo Aéreo Nº 3 (3rd Air Group) based at Callao
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 315 (Light Helicopter Squadron 315) – operating BO-105
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 331 (Helicopter Training Squadron 331) – operating Schweizer 300 (based at Las Palmas)
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 332 (Medium-Airlift Helicopter Squadron 332) – operating Bell 212 and Bell 412
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 334 (Surveillance Squadron 334) – operating C-26B
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 342 (Heavy-Airlift Helicopter Squadron 342) – operating Mi-17
  • Grupo Aéreo Nº 8 (8th Air Group) based at Callao
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 841 (Transport Squadron 841) – operating B-737
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 842 (Transport Squadron 842) – operating L-100-20 Hercules
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 843 (Transport Squadron 843) – operating An-32
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 844 (Transport Squadron 844) – operating C-27J

Ala Aérea Nº 3[edit]

3rd Air Wing, headquartered at Arequipa

  • Grupo Aéreo Nº 2 (2nd Air Group) based at Vítor
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 211 (Attack Helicopter Squadron 211) – operating Mi-25D, Mi-35P
  • Grupo Aéreo Nº 4 (4th Air Group) based at La Joya
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 412 (Fighter Squadron 412 "Hawks") – operating Mirage 2000P/DP
  • Grupo Aéreo Nº 51 (51st Air Group) based at Pisco
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 511 (Basic Training Squadron 511) – operating Zlin 242L
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 512 (Intermediate Training Squadron 512) – operating AT-27 and KT-1P
    • Escuadrón Aéreo 513 (Advanced Training Squadron 513) – operating MB-339AP

Ala Aérea Nº 4[edit]

4th Air Wing, headquartered at Iquitos

  • Grupo Aéreo Nº 42 (42nd Air Group) based at Iquitos
    • Escuadron Aereo 421 (Transport Squadron 421) – operating PC-6, DHC-6 and Y-12

Personnel[edit]

SA-3 Pechora SAM on display at Las Palmas Airbase – 2006
Personnel (as of 2001)[6]
Commissioned Officers 1,909
Non-commissioned officers 7,559
Cadets 325
NCO in training 296
Enlisted 7,880
Civilians 8,708
Total 17,969
(excl. civilians)

Aircraft[edit]

Current inventory[edit]

An Air Force MiG-29 at Halcon-Condor 2010 festival
A Boeing 737 sits on the tarmac at Jorge Chávez International Airport
A Mi-35 in flight
An Aermacchi MB-339 on the taxi way
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
MiG-29 Russia multirole 19[7]
Sukhoi Su-25 Russia attack 18[7]
Cessna A-37 United States attack 24[7]
Dassault Mirage 2000 France multirole 2000P 9[7]
Reconnaissance
Metro 23 United States surveillance / COMINT 2[7] donated by the U.S. for anti-drug operations[8]
Learjet 35 United States photomapping U-36 1[7]
Transport
Boeing 737 United States VIP 1[7]
Metro 23 United States VIP / utility 1[7]
C-27J Spartan Italy transport 3 [7]
Antonov An-32 Ukraine transport 3[7]
DHC-6 Twin Otter Canada utility transport 15[7] STOL capable aircraft
Lockheed L-100 United States transport 2[7]
Pilatus PC-6 Switzerland utility / transport 1[7] STOL capable aircraft
Helicopters
Bell 412 United States utility 3[7]
Bell 212 United States utility 3[7]
Mil Mi-17 Russia utility Mi-17/171 11[7]
Mil Mi-24 Russia attack Mi-24/35 16[7]
MBB Bo 105 Germany utility 2[7]
Trainer Aircraft
EMB 312 Tucano Brazil trainer 17[7]
KAI KT-1 Republic of Korea primary trainer 11[7]
Aermacchi MB-339 Italy jet trainer 5[7]
Dassault Mirage 2000 France conversion trainer 2000DP 2[7]
CH2000 United States trainer 6[7]
Sikorsky S-300 United States trainer 6[7]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Efraín Cobas|Cobas, Efraín]], Las Fuerzas Armadas Peruanas en el Siglo XXI. CESLA, 2003.
  • Alejo Marchessini|Marchessini, Alejo, "La Fuerza Aérea del Perú"; Defensa 295: 30–42 (November 2002).
  • Alejo Marchessini|Marchessini, Alejo, "La aviación de combate de origen ruso de la FAP"; Defensa 342: 34–36 (October 2006).
  • Alejo Marchessini|Marchessini, Alejo, "El Servicio de Material de Guerra de la FAP"; Defensa 355: 48–50 (November 2007).

External links[edit]