The Bolivian Air Force (Spanish: Fuerza Aérea Boliviana or 'FAB') is the air force of Bolivia and branch of the Bolivian Armed Forces.

Bolivian Air Force
Fuerza Aérea Boliviana
Emblem of the Bolivian Air Force
Founded26 September 1957; 66 years ago (1957-09-26)
Country Bolivia
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Part ofBolivian Armed Forces
General of the Air ForceCiro Orlando Álvarez Guzmán
Rafael Pabón
Bernardino Bilbao Rioja
Fin flash
Aircraft flown
HelicopterHelibras HB350 Esquilo
TrainerHongdu JL-8VB, Pilatus PC-7 Turbo Trainer, Diamond DA40
TransportLockheed C-130 Hercules, BAE Systems 146
A UH-1 of the FAB in flight

History edit

By 1938 the Bolivian air force consisted of about 60 aircraft (Curtiss Hawk fighters, Curtiss T-32 Condor II and Junkers W 34 bombers, Junkers Ju 86 used as transport craft, and Fokker C.V, Breguet 19 and Vickers Vespa reconnaissance planes), and about 300 staff; the officers were trained in Italy.[1]

In 2017 Bolivia finally retired the Lockheed T-33 marking the end of 44 years of service. Bolivia was the last operator of the T-33.[2]

Organization edit

FAB is organized into air brigades, which is formed by one to three air groups. The air groups are based at La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Puerto Suárez, Tarija, Villamontes, Cobija, Trinidad, Riberalta, Roboré, Uyuni, Oruro, Sucre and Chimoré.

Major commands included the following:

  • General Command Systems Department in La Paz, equipped with sophisticated computers.
A Cavalier Mustang, formerly of the Bolivian Air Force, parked on a Canadian airfield.
  • Group of Air-Defense (Grupo Aereo de Defensa Anteaerea – GADA): GADA-91 (I BRIGADE), GADA-92 (II BRIGADE), GADA-93 (III BRIGADE), GADA-94 (IV BRIGADE), GADA-95 (V BRIGADE), GADA-96 (VI BRIGADE) and GADA-97 (I BRIGADE).
  • Six air brigades with subordinate air groups.
    • First Air Brigade (El Alto):
      • Fighter group 31 "Gral. Jorge Jordán Mercado":[3] Fighter squadron 311, Executive squadron 310
      • Transport air group 71 "Gen.W.A.Rojas" (Military airlift TAM):Air squadron 710, Air squadron 711, Air squadron 712
      • Aerophotogrammetry National Service (NSS)
      • Air group 1 – Air group VIP
      • Air group 66 – air base in Oruro
      • Transporte Aereo Boliviano-TAB
      • Task Force "Black Devils"
      • Group air defence artillery GADA-91
      • Group air defence artillery GADA-97
    • Second Air Brigade (Cochabamba):
      • Fighter group 34 "P.R.Cuevas": Aerotactico squadron 340, Link training squadron 341
      • Air group search and rescue 51: Helicopter Squadron 511
      • Air group training 22 – air base in Chimore (helicopter training)
      • Air group 67 – air base in Sucre
        A T-33 of the FAB
        Group air defence artillery GADA-92
    • Third Air Brigade (Santa Cruz):
      • Fighter group 32 "B.B.Rioja" (CEPAC): squadron 321, squadron 320, squadron 327 (maintenance)
      • COLMILAV Air group training 21 – Training squadrons: primary squadron, basic squadron, squadron "NN" (prob.navigation)
      • Air group 83(air base Puerto Suarez): 831 squadron
      • Air group 61 "Gen.L.G.Pereiera (air base Robore): squadron 610
      • Task force "Red Devils" (air base El Trompillo-Robore)
      • Group air defence artillery GADA-93
    • Fourth Air Brigade (Tarija):
      • Air Group 82 "Cap.A.V.Peralta" (air base Camiri): squadron 821
      • Air Group 63 "Tcnl.E.L.Rivera" (air base Villamontes): squadron 630
      • Air Group 41 – (air base Tarija)
      • Air group 65 – (air base Uyuni)
      • Group air defence artillery GADA-94
    • Fifth Air Brigade (Trinidad):
      • Group air 72 – air base Trinidad
      • Group air 62 – air base Riberalta
      • Group air defence artillery GADA-95
    • Sixth Air Brigade (Cobija):
      • Group air 64 – air base Cobija
      • Group air defence artillery GADA-96

Civil Aviation edit

The General Directorate of Civil Aeronautics (Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil—DGAC) formerly part of the FAB, administers a civil aeronautics school called the National Institute of Civil Aeronautics (Instituto Nacional de Aeronáutica Civil—INAC), and two commercial air transport services TAM and TAB.

Bolivian Military Airline (TAM) edit

Bolivian Military Airline (Transporte Aéreo Militar / TAM) is an airline based in La Paz, Bolivia. It is the civilian wing of the 'Fuerza Aérea Boliviana' (the Bolivian Air Force), operating passenger services to remote towns and communities in the North and Northeast of Bolivia. TAM (aka TAM Group 71) has been a part of the FAB since 1945.

A similar airline serving the Beni Department with small planes is Línea Aérea Amaszonas,[4] using smaller planes than TAM.

The Bolivian Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Public Works, Services and Housing announced on 8 December 2016 that TAM would cease transporting civilian passengers and cargo on 16 December 2016. The decision was to allow TAM to reorganize with a status akin to the state-sponsored Boliviana de Aviacion prior to resuming service under civilian regulations.[5]

Bolivian Air Transport (TAB) edit

Although a civil transport airline, Bolivian Air Transport (Transportes Aéreos Bolivianos / TAB, was created as a subsidiary company of the FAB in 1977. It is subordinate to the Air Transport Management (Gerencia de Transportes Aéreos) and is headed by an FAB general. TAB, a charter heavy cargo airline, links Bolivia with most countries of the Western Hemisphere; its inventory included a fleet of Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft. TAB's Base of operations was headquartered at El Alto, adjacent to La Paz's El Alto International Airport. TAB also flew to Miami and Houston, with stops in Panama.

Aircraft edit

Current inventory edit

A K-8 Karakorum light attack / trainer
A Eurocopter EC-145 helicopter used in Bolivia as presidential transport.
A Dassault Falcon 900EX used by the President of Bolivia
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Learjet 35 United States surveillance 2[6]
Falcon 900 France VIP transport 1[7]
Falcon 50 France VIP transport 1[8]
King Air 90 United States transport 90/200/350 5[6]
Cessna 402 United States utility / trainer 1[6]
Jetstream 31 United Kingdom transport 2[6]
C-130 Hercules United States transport C-130B 4[6]
Bell UH-1 United States utility UH-1H 11[6]
Eurocopter AS332 France utility / transport 6[6] called "Super Puma"
Eurocopter AS350 France utility 2[6] called "Écureuil"/"Squirrel"
Eurocopter EC145 Germany utility / SAR 2[6]
Aérospatiale SA316 France liaison 1[6]
Trainer Aircraft
Zlín Z 42 Czech Republic basic trainer Z 242L 8[6]
Hongdu K-8 China jet trainer 4[6]
Pilatus PC-7 Switzerland trainer 2[6]
Robinson R44 United States rotorcraft trainer 5[6]
RemoEye-006[9][10] Republic of Korea surveillance 2

Future acquisitions edit

During a 31 July 2017 ceremony, which was attended by the armed forces' high command, four models of lead-in fighter trainers (LIFT; L-15, M-346, T-50, and Yak-130) were presented with a potential to replace the T-33 and reequip the GAC-31. The FAB's Commander expressed the FAB's preference for the Yak-130.[11]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ R. Schnitzler, G.W. Feuchter, R. Schulz (Eds.): Handbuch der Luftfahrt (Manual of Aviation). Jahrgang 1939. p. 17-18. J.F. Lehmanns Verlag, München & Berlin.
  2. ^ "Bolivia retires last T-33s trainer/Attack aircraft, announces replacement | Jane's 360". Archived from the original on 4 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  3. ^ "AviacinBoliviana.Net ::". Archived from the original on 8 December 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  4. ^ "Home – Airline Amaszonas – Flights Bolivia, Cuzco, Sucre". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  5. ^ Olguin, Jonathan (21 December 2016). "Bolivian Air Force transport unit to suspend commercial operations". IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. 53 (51): 10.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Hoyle, Craig (2023). "World Air Forces 2024". FlightGlobal. Retrieved 26 March 2024.
  7. ^ "FAB-001". Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  8. ^ "FAB-002". Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  9. ^ "The Drone Index: RemoEye 015". 21st Century Asian Arms Race. 9 August 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  10. ^ InfoDefensa, Revista Defensa (3 June 2013). "La Fuerza Aérea boliviana presenta sus primeros UAV" [The Bolivian Air Force presents its first UAVs]. Infodefensa - Noticias de defensa, industria, seguridad, armamento, ejércitos y tecnología de la defensa (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  11. ^ "Bolivia despide los últimos T-33 en servicio de todo el mundo - Noticias Infodefensa América". 2 August 2017.

Bibliography edit

  • Andrade, John (1982). Militair 1982. London: Aviation Press Limited. ISBN 0-907898-01-7.
  • Hagedorn, Daniel P. (September–October 1996). "Talkback". Air Enthusiast (65): 80. ISSN 0143-5450.

External links edit