Ecuadorian Air Force

The Ecuadorian Air Force (Spanish: Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana, FAE) is the Air arm of the Military of Ecuador and responsible for the protection of the Ecuadorian airspace.

Ecuadorian Air Force
Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana
Country Ecuador
BranchAir force
72 aircraft
Part ofMilitary of Ecuador
EngagementsPaquisha War 1981
Cenepa War 1995
Brigadier General

Patricio Mora

Comandante General de la Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana
Fin flash
Aircraft flown
FighterAtlas Cheetah, IAI Kfir
HelicopterHAL Dhruv
TrainerEMB 314 Super Tucano


To develop the military air wing, in order to execute institutional objectives which guarantee sovereignty and contribute towards the nation's security and development.


To be a dissuasive Air Force, respected and accepted by society, pioneering within the nation's "air-space" development.


The FAE was officially created on October 27, 1920. However, like in many other countries, military flying activity started before the formal date of birth of the Air Force. The history of Ecuador is marked by many skirmishes with its neighbour Peru. As a direct result of the 1910 Ecuador-Peru crisis the members of Club de Tiro Guayaquil decided to expand their sporting activities into aviation as well. Renamed Club de Tiro y Aviación, they started an aviation school. Cosme Rennella Barbatto, an Italian living in Guayaquil, was one of the very first members of Club de Tiro y Aviación. In 1912 Cosme Rennella was sent to his native Italy for training where he successfully graduated as a pilot. He later returned to Europe a second time in 1915, where he participated in World War I.[2] In 152 combat sorties he scored 18 victories, although only 7 were confirmed. When he returned to Ecuador, his experiences served as motivation for a reduced group of Ecuadorian pilots, who moved to the Aviation School in Turin, Italy, with the objective of graduating as the first Ecuadorian pilots of the nascent Ecuadorian Military Aviation.

By 1939 the Ecuadorian Air Force was still limited to about 30 aircraft and a staff of about 60, including 10 officers.[3] Military aviation did not start in earnest until the early forties when an Ecuadorian mission to the United States resulted in the delivery of an assortment of aircraft for the Aviation school at Salinas. Three Ryan PT-22 Recruits, six Curtiss-Wright CW-22 Falcons, six Fairchild PT-19A Cornells and three North American AT-6A Harvards arrived in March 1942, considerably boosting the capacity of the Escuela de Aviación at Salinas.

The 1950s and 1960s saw a further necessary buildup of the air force, gaining more units and aircraft. Meanwhile, efforts were made in enhancing the facilities at various airbases. In May 1961 the "First Air Zone" with its subordinate unit Ala de Transportes No.11 was founded. The "Second Air Zone" controlled the units in the southern half of Ecuador, Ala de Combate No.21 at Taura, Ala de Rescate No.22' at Guayaquil and Ala de Combate No.23 at Manta as well as the Escuela Superior Militar de Aviación "Cosme Rennella B." (ESMA) at Salinas.

The Ala 11 has its own commercial branch, like in many other South-American countries, the Transporte Aérea Militar Ecuatoriana (TAME). Besides the military transport aircraft, it also uses commercial airliners. Flying to locations off the beaten track, TAME provides an additional service to the people of Ecuador.

The FAE saw action on several occasions. A continuous border dispute with Peru flared up in 1981 and 1995.[4][5] Today the FAE faces the war on drugs as well as many humanitarian and logistic missions into the Amazon-region of the country. Nevertheless, being a middle-income country and supporting a relatively large air force is a burden.


This is the current structure of the Ecuadorian Air Force:[6]

  • 21 Combat Wing (Ala de combate 21) - Taura Air Base
    • 2112 Combat Squadron "Cheetah" (Esc. de combate 2112 "Cheetah") - operating Atlas Cheetah[7]
  • 22 Combat Wing (Ala de combate 22) - Simon Bolivar Air Base
    • 2211 Combat Squadron (Esc. de combate 2211) - operating Cessna 206
    • 2212 Combat Squadron (Esc. de combate 2212) - operating TH-57
  • 23 Combat Wing (Ala de combate 23) - Eloy Alfaro Air Base
    • 2311 Combat Squadron "Dragons" (Esc. de combate 2311 "Dragones") - operating A-29 Super Tucano
  • 11 Transport Wing (Ala de transporte 11) - Cotopaxi Air Base (part of Latacunga International Airport)
    • 1111 Transport Squadron "Hercules" (Esc. de transporte 1111 "Hercules") - operating C-130H/L100-30
    • 1112 Transport Squadron "Avro" (Esc. de transporte 1112 "Avro") - operating CASA 295
    • 1113 Transport Squadron "Twin Otter" (Esc. de transporte 1113 "Twin Otter") - operating DHC-6 Twin Otter
    • 1114 Transport Squadron "Sabreliner" (Esc. de transporte 1114 "Sabreliner") - operating Sabreliner
  • Air Force Academy "Cosme Rennella" (Escuela Superior Militar de Aviacion "Cosme Rennella") - Salinas Air Base - operating Diamond DA20


Current inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
Atlas Cheetah  South Africa Fighter Cheetah C GIIIB
Cheetah D
Upgraded variant of the Dassault Mirage III
IAI Kfir  Israel Multirole fighter Kfir C.E. 8[8] Retired
Ground-attack aircraft
Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano  Brazil Light attack / Advanced training A-29B Super Tucano 17[8]
Airspace Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Control Aircraft
North American Sabreliner  United States Airspace Reconnaissance Sabre 40A
Sabre 60
In 2008 one of the aircraft conducted microgravity tests in Latin America with the Ecuadorian Civilian Space Agency
Grumman Gulfstream II  United States Surveillance and Control 1[8] The Ecuadorian National Customs Service (Senae) donated the aircraft to the Ecuadorian Air Force (FAE).
Presidential Squadron
Dassault Falcon 7X  France VIP Falcon 7x 1[8]
Embraer Legacy 600  Brazil VIP Legacy 600 1[8] Use of the President of Ecuador and members of the Government inside and outside the country. It flies as FAE 001 although its license plate is FAE 051.
Military transport aircraft
Boeing 737  United States Heavy Transport B-737-200 3[8] The Ecuadorian National Customs Service (Senae) donated two Boeing 737 aircraft to the Ecuadorian Air Force (FAE).
Boeing 727  United States Heavy Transport B-727-100
Lockheed C-130 Hercules  United States Tactical transport C-130H
Modernized and repowered in DIAF.
CASA C-295  Spain Tactical transport / SAR C-295M 3[8]
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter  Canada Tactical transport / Utility DHC-6-300 4[8] STOL capable aircraft
Beechcraft Super King Air  United States Utility / MEDEVAC 350i 1[8]
Cessna 206  United States Utility / Liaison aircraft C206H
Laboratory Plane
Beechcraft Super King Air  United States Calibration of navigation aids 350i 1[8]
Trainer Aircraft
Diamond DA20  Canada Austria Basic trainer DA20-C1 11[8]
Cessna 150  United States Basic trainer A-150L Aerobat 24[8]
Cessna T-41 Mescalero  United States Basic trainer T-41A
Military helicopter
Bell UH-1 Iroquois  United States Utility helicopter 31[8] Its operational status is unknown.
Bell 212  United States Utility helicopter 9[8]
Bell 206  United States Light utility helicopter TH-57A
Eurocopter Fennec  France Light utility helicopter AS-555AN 3[8]
Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil  France Light utility helicopter AS-350 5[8]
AgustaWestland AW119 Koala  Italy Utility helicopter / SAR AW119Ke Koala 4[8]
Unmanned aerial vehicle
UAV-1 Phoenix  Ecuador Surveillance UAV 6 Its development began in 1997 and was abandoned in 2002 for lack of resources, was resumed in 2011, has the capability of autonomous takeoff and landing and real-time transmission of data captured by an electro-optical system.
UAV-2 Hawk  Ecuador Surveillance UAV 5 Indigenously-developed.[9]


Name Origin Type Notes
Targeting pod
POD Vinten Vicon 601 GP  United Kingdom White Search Container Long-range aerial reconnaissance POD with the possibility to send oblique images
Thomson-CSF ATLIS II  France White Search Container Targeting guidance POD and target designation container laser/electro-optics
Forward-looking infrared
FLIR AN/AAQ-22 Star SAFIRE III  United States FLIR Electro-optical/infrared sensors
Air-to-air missile
AIM-9 Sidewinder  United States Short-range and passive infrared guidance AIM-9L
Matra R.550 Magic  France Short-range ▪ Magic Mk.1

▪ Magic Mk.2

Kentron V3B Kukri  South Africa Short-range by infrared
MAA-1 Piranha  Brazil Short-range ▪ MAA-1A

▪ MAA-1B

RAFAEL Python  Israel Short-range guided by infrared
  • Shafrir-2
  • Python-3
  • Python-4
  • Python-5
es:RAFAEL Derby  Israel Short- and medium-range capacity look-down/shoot-down (BVR)
R-Darter  South Africa Short-range and mid-range guided by active radar beyond visual range (BVR)
Air-to-ground missile
AS-30  France Short-to-medium range semi-active laser homing guidance AS-30L
Anti-runway penetration bomb
Matra Durandal  France
General-purpose bomb
Mark 82  United States Unguided bomb 227 kg
SNEB  France Unguided air-to-ground rocket projectile 68 mm (2.7 in) dummy rockets
SBAT-70  Brazil Unguided air-to-ground rocket projectile 70 mm
  • 19 rocket pack
SBAT-127  Brazil Unguided air-to-ground rocket projectile 127 mm
  • 7 rocket pack
Guided bomb
Elbit Lizard  Israel Pump guided Kits Mk.82
Incendiary bomb
CBU-55  United States Cluster bomb fuel air explosive Napalm
Anti-ship missile
MBDA Exocet  France AM.39

Air Defense

Name Origin Type In service Notes
Mobile surface-to-air missile system
9K33 Osa  Soviet Union Amphibious SAM system 15[10]
MIM-72 Chaparral  United States Mobile SAM system 25[10]
Air defense radar
AR-15M  United Kingdom Radar 1[10] Three-dimensional radar
AR-3D  United Kingdom Radar 2[10] Long-range radar
36D-6  Ukraine Radar 2[10] Medium-range radar
AN/TPS-70  United States Radar 4[10] Mobile S band phased array 3D radar
Long-range radar
AN/TPS-78  United States Radar 1[10] Passive 3D long-range electronic scanning radar
Donated by USA
es:Radar Lanza  Spain Radar 4[10] Long-range electronic scanning 3D radar
Electronic/rotating mechanical radar
Oerlikon Skyguard II   Switzerland Fire-control radar 22[10] Logistics support for Oerlikon anti-aircraft system
Self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery
ZSU-23-4 Shilka  Soviet Union SPAAG 44[10] All received from Nicaragua in 1997. Jane's Information Group. 2008-10-30.[11] Retrieved 2008-11-08.
M163 VADS  United States SPAAG 50[10]
Anti-aircraft artillery
Oerlikon GDF-003   Switzerland Twin Autocannon 30[10] Towed 35 mm towed automatic gun, operates alongside the Skyguard II system
M167 VADS  United States Rotary cannon 30[10] Automatic towed 20 mm automatic anti-aircraft gun
ZSU-23-2  Soviet Union Twin Autocannon 34[10] Automatic towed automatic gun 23 mm caliber
All received from Nicaragua in 1997. Jane's Information Group. 2008-10-30.[12] Retrieved 2008-11-08.
Bofors M1  Sweden Anti-aircraft gun 40[10] 40 mm towed automatic anti-aircraft gun
  • L/60
  • L/70
ZPU  Soviet Union Anti-aircraft gun 128[10] Towed anti-aircraft automatic gun 14.5 mm caliber
  • ZPU-1
  • ZPU-2
  • ZPU-4
M45 Quadmount  United States Anti-aircraft gun / Heavy machine gun 226[10] 4 x 50 automatic anti-aircraft gun 12.7 mm caliber,modernized with new systems, some are mounted on trucks Unimog and pickup CUCV II

Air Infantry

Name Type Caliber Origin In service Notes
General-purpose machine gun
FN MAG7.62×51mm NATO BelgiumStandard general-purpose machine gun
Heckler & Koch HK21HK21E7.62×51mm NATO GermanySpecial Forces general-purpose machine gun
Assault rifle
FN FAL7.62×51mm NATO BelgiumStandard assault rifle
M4 carbineA15.56×45mm NATO United StatesSpecial Forces
Submachine gun
IMI Uzi9×19mm Parabellum IsraelSpecial Forces
Colt 9mm SMG9×19mm Parabellum United StatesSpecial Forces
Semi-automatic pistol
M1911 pistol.45 ACP United StatesStandard pistol
Hand grenade
M26 grenadeM26A1/M61 United States
Red dot sight
Advanced Combat Optical GunsightReflex sight United StatesUsed by special forces.
Aimpoint CompM4Reflex sight United StatesUsed by special forces.
Grenade launcher
M203 grenade launcher40 mm grenade United StatesGrenade launcher coupled in M4 carbines.
Sniper rifle
Heckler & Koch PSG1Sniper rifle7.62×51mm NATO Germany
M14 rifleDesignated marksman rifle7.62×51mm NATO United States
Infantry mortar
Hirtenberger M6C-21060 mm AustriaLight mortar, used by special operations units.
Infantry fighting vehicle
BTR-60Wheeled amphibious armored personnel carrier Soviet Union10Command vehicle operating within the SA-8


Previous aircraft flown by the Air Force included the BAC Strikemaster, Cessna A-37 Dragonfly, Dassault Mirage 5, Dassault Mirage F1, English Electric Canberra, Gloster Meteor, Hawker Siddeley HS 748, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, SEPECAT Jaguar.

See also


  1. A Comparative Atlas Of Defence In Latin America / 2014 Edition
  2. Franks, Norman; Guest, Russell; Alegi, Gregory. (1997) Above the War Fronts: The British Two-seater Bomber Pilot and Observer Aces, the British Two-seater Fighter Observer Aces, and the Belgian, Italian, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Fighter Aces, 1914–1918: Volume 4 of Fighting Airmen of WWI Series: Volume 4 of Air Aces of WWI. Oxford: Grub Street. pp. 155-156.
  3. Schnitzler, R.; Feuchter, G.W.; Schulz, R., eds. (1939). Handbuch der Luftwaffe [Aviation Manual] (in German) (3rd ed.). Munich and Berlin: J. F. Lehmanns Verlag. p. 64.
  4. "Peru vs. Ecuador; Alto-Cenepa War, 1995". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  5. "Ecuador Air Force". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  6. Eric Katerberg & Anno Gravemaker, Force Report: Ecuador Air Force, Air Forces Monthly, July 2008 issue.
  8. "World Air Forces 2017". Flightglobal Insight. 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  9. Ecuador; Air Force receives indigenously developed UAV Archived 2014-01-16 at the Wayback Machine -, 16 January 2014
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