|Colombian Air Force|
|Fuerza Aérea Colombiana|
|Founded||February 15, 1921|
|Size||25,000 active personnel|
|Part of||Colombian Armed Forces|
|Motto(s)||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|
Colombian armed conflict
|Air Force Commander||Major General Ramses Rueda Rueda|
|AF Deputy Commander and AF Chief of Staff||Major General Jorge Tadeo Borbon|
|Inspector General||Major General Rodrigo Valencia Guevara|
|Major General Alberto Alejandro Pauwels Rodriguez|
|Attack||A-29, A-37, AC-47T|
|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 Military Forces of Colombia charged, according to the 1991 Constitution, working to exercise and maintain control of Colombia's airspace and to defend its sovereignty, territorial integrity and constitutional order. It is one of the largest American air forces (after the United States, Brazil and Peru) and has increased its activity due to important roles in the fight against narco-terrorism.
The FAC has been used in observation and aerial combat missions since the Colombian-Peruvian war of 1932 and also operated during the Second World War in the islands of San Andrés. It has never assisted in ousting an elected government by force, but the FAC helped quell many rebellions.
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.
On September 1, 1932, Peruvian civilians crossed into Colombian territory and invaded the town of Leticia in the Colombian Amazon claiming that the town was 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.
The diplomatic breach between Colombia and the Axis countries (Germany, Italy and Japan) was declared on 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. On 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.
Combat Air Commands (Comando Aéreo de Combate or CACOM):
Transportation and Maintenance:
As of 2010, 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.
The tables below display the rank structures and rank insignias for the Colombian Air Force personnel.
|Ranks and Insignias - Colombian Air Force|
|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||[[File:Mayor general col fuerza aerea.svg||60px]]|
|Spanish||-||General||Teniente General||Mayor General||Brigadier General||Coronel||Teniente Coronel||Mayor||Capitán||Teniente||Subteniente|
|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
|NATO code[n 1]||OR-9||OR-8||OR-7||OR-6||OR-5||OR-4||OR-3||OR-2||OR-1|
|Spanish||Técnico Jefe de Comando Conjunto||Técnico Jefe de Comando||Técnico Jefe||Técnico Subjefe||Técnico Primero||Técnico Segundo||Técnico Tercero||Técnico Cuarto||Aerotécnico||-|
|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||-|
|Basler BT-67||United States||attack / reconnaissance||AC-47T||6||modified DC-3 with turboprop engines, and mounted guns for CAS.|
|A-37 Dragonfly||United States||light attack / COIN||14|
|EMB 314 Super Tucano||Brazil||light attack / COIN||24|
|Cessna 208||United States||reconnaissance||6|
|Boeing Insitu ScanEagle||United States||UAV||6||+ an unspecified number of the Night Eagle variant, since 2013.|
|Elbit Hermes 450||Israel||UAV||6||After 2013|
|Elbit Hermes 900||Israel||UAV||2||After 2013|
|Super King Air||United States||electronic attack||300/350||3|
|Metroliner IV||United States||EW / reconnaissance||1|
|Cessna Citation||United States||maritime patrol||Ultra||5|
|Turbo Commander||United States||maritime patrol||2|
|Boeing KC-767||United States||aerial refueling / transport||MMTT||1||tanker transport conversion by Israeli Aerospace Industries|
|Boeing 737||United States||VIP||2|
|Boeing 727||United States||VIP||2|
|Embraer Legacy 600||Brazil||VIP||1|
|C-130 Hercules||United States||transport||C-130B/H||5|
|CASA C-295||Spain||utility transport||8||one used for reconnaissance|
|Cessna 208||United States||utility transport||10|
|Embraer EMB 110||Brazil||utility / transport||2|
|Turbo Commander||United States||transport||1|
|Super King Air||United States||transport||90/350||8|
|Piper PA-31||United States||light transport||1|
|Bell 206||United States||utility / liaison||37|
|Bell 212||United States||utility||10|
|Sikorsky UH-60||United States||SAR / COIN||U/M/AH-60L||24|
|MD 500 Defender||United States||light utility||530||10|
|Bell 206||United States||rotor-craft trainer||8||30 on order|
|Lancair T50||United States||primary trainer||25|
|Cessna T-37||United States||jet trainer||17|
|EMB 312 Tucano||Brazil||advanced trainer||14|
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: