Author: Ian French
Photographers: Sandro Rota/Ecuador Aviation Photography & Ian French/Aviation Press
The Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana (FAE) was established in 1920 but had its origins some 10 years earlier as a direct result of the 1910 Ecuador-Peru crisis. The FAE remained a small organisation until the early 1940s when the USA provided aircraft to enhance the training programme and this lead to further expansion in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1961 the First Air Zone was established with Ala de Transporte 11 as its subordinate unit. Ala 11 had its own commercial branch, the Transporte Aérea Militar Ecuatoriana (TAME) which flew military aircraft and commercial airliners. The Second Air Zone controlled the south of the country with Ala de Combate 21 at Taura, Ala de Rescate 22 at Guayaquil, Ala de Combate 23 at Manta as well as the Escuela Superior Militar de Aviación (ESMA) at Salinas.
The FAE has seen military action in 1981 and 1995 in border disputes with Peru. There is of course the continuing war on drugs and most of the current activity is concentrated in this area.
The FAE is organised on a wing basis as follows:
Ala de Transporte 11 at Base Aérea Mariscal Sucre/Quito
The wing was formed as Grupo de Transportes in 1946. Prior to the formation of individual squadrons, the aircraft were operated by Grupo de Transporte 111.
Aircraft operated: C-47 1946-1982, C-45B 1947-1982, DC-6B 1964-1984 & DHC-5D 1976-1998
Escuadrón de Transporte 1111
The squadron was formed in 1977 to operate the C-130. Only one remains active today.
Aircraft operated: C-130 from 1977 & B737 from 2013
Escuadrón de Transporte 1112
The squadron was formed in 1970 to operate the HS748.
Aircraft operated: HS748 1970-2014 & Casa 295 from 2014
Escuadrón de Transporte 1113
The squadron was formed in 1974 to operate the DHC-6.
Aircraft operated: DHC-6 from 1974
Escuadrón de Transporte 1114
The squadron was formed in 1987 to operate the Sabre and to provide VIP transport.
Aircraft operated: Sabre 1987-2022, B727 1987-2016, ERJ135 from 2008, Dhruv 2009-2015 & Falcon 7X from 2013
Grupo de Bombardeo 1112 at Base Aérea Mariscal Sucre/Quito
The Grupo was formed in 1954 to operate the Canberra through its subordinate squadron, Escuadrón de Combate 1112, and both were disbanded on the Canberra’s retirement in 1981.
Ala de Combate 21 at Base Aérea Taura/Taura
The Ala de Combate 21 was formed in 1957 as Grupo Aérea Taura with Escuadrón Táctico 12, Escuadrón Táctico 13 and Escuadrón Táctico 14 as subordinated units.
Escuadrón de Combate 2111 “Jaguares”
The squadron became operational as Escuadrón Táctico 13 with Gloster Meteors in January 1957 and was rebadged as Escuadrón de Combate 2111 in 1966. The squadron’s name was originally “Aguilas” but was changed to “Jaguares” in 1981. The squadron disbanded in 2002.
Aircraft operated: Meteor FR9 1954-1977 & Jaguar 1977-2002
Escuadrón de Combate 2112 “Mirage”
The squadron was established as Escuadrón Táctico 14 with Lockheed F-80C/T-33A in January 1957. With further deliveries of F-80 as second unit was formed: Escuadrón Táctico 12. Escuadrón Táctico 14 was renumbered Escuadrón de Caza-Bombardeo 2112 in 1966. Six Mirage 50 were donated by Venezuela in 2009 but never entered service.
Aircraft operated: T-33A 1957, F-80C 1957-1974, T-28A 1968-1977, A-37B 1975-1979, Mirage F1J 1979-2011 & Cheetah 2012-2021
Escuadrón de Combate 2113 “Leones”
The squadron was formed in 1962 as Escuadrilla de Vuelo 1 of the Escuadrón de Rescate y Salvamento 2113 at Guayaquil. In 1972 a new squadron was formed, the Grupo de Rescate 221, to operate the helicopters, part of the newly formed Ala de Combate 22. The squadron disbanded in 1979 and was reactivated in 1982 before disbanding again in 2014.
Aircraft operated: H-41A 1962-1965, H-19B 1965-1970s, FH1100 1967-1981, T-28D 1968-1977, Strikemaster 1972-1979 & Kfir 1982-2014
Ala de Combate 22 at Base Aérea Simón Bolivar/Guayaquil
Ala de Combate 22 was formed in 1972 along with Grupo de Combate 221, which was originally formed in 1972 as Grupo de Rescate 221 to operate all helicopters of the wing. With the arrival of the TH-57 in 1990 the subordinate unit’s name was changed to Grupo de Combate 221 and the three subordinate escuadrón were formed.
Aircraft operated: FH1100 1972-1981, SA316B 1972-1990, SA330F 1975-1977, B212 1977-1990
Escuadrón de Combat 2211 “Cobras”
A detachment is maintained at Base Aérea Lago Agria with Ala 31.
Aircraft operated: SA316B 1990-2009, B212 1990-2004, PA-34, C206 from 1997, Dhruv 2009-2015 & H145M from 2021
Escuadrón de Combate 2212 “Lobos”
TH-57 from 1990, B206B from 2010 & AW119K from 2019
Escuadrón de Entrenamiento 2213
Little is known about this squadron but it is likely to have been disbanded quite some time ago.
Aircraft operated: B47G 1975-1994
Ala de Combate 23 at Base Aérea Eloy Alfaro/Manta
The wing was established in 1978 when the Base Aérea Eloy Alfaro in Manta became operational.
Escuadrón de Combate 2311 “Dragones”
The squadron was established in 1979 to operate the A-37 which it inherited from EdC2112 at Taura. A detachment is maintend at Base Aérea Lago Agria with Ala 31
Aircraft operated: A-37B 1975-2011 & A-29B from 2010
Escuadrón de Combate 2312 “Tiburones”
The squadron became operational as Escuadrón Táctico 12 with Lockheed T-33A in 1957 as a unit of Grupo Aérea de Taura. The squadron became Escuadrón de Combate 2312 in 1982 at Manta. The squadron disbanded in 1996.
Aircraft operated: T-33A 1957-1996
Escuadrón de Combate 2313 “Halcones”
The unit was formed in 1979 to operate the Strikemaster which it inherited from Escuadrón de Combate 2113 at Taura.
Aircraft operated: Strikemaster 1979-2013 & A-29B from 2010
Escuela Superior Militar de Aviacion (ESMA) “Cosme Rennella” at Base Aérea General Ulpiano Páez/Salinas
The school’s origins can be traced back to 1920 when two Escuela de Aviación Militar (EAM) were formed in Guayaquil and Quito.
A year later the school in Quito was closed and Escuela de Aviación Militar “El Cóndor” and Aeródromo El Cóndor were inaugurated and became the nucleus of the Compañia de Aviación del Ejército. In 1929 EAM moved to a new airfield in Latacunga and then again in 1935 to Base Aérea Simón Bolivar/Guayaquil and became Escuela Militar de Aviación, which is part of ESMA. In 1942 EAM moved to Salinas AB. One of the two Aerotec MXP-650s crashed in 2002 soon after delivery and it is likely the second one was withdrawn at the same time. It remains in storage at Cotopaxi AP.
Escuadrón Entrenamiento Aéreo
Aircraft operated: T-6D/G 1953-1976, T-34A 1962-late1970s, T-41A/D 1965-2000, C A150L 1974-2012, T-34C 1978-2016, MXP650 2002 & DA20C-1 from 2012
Escuadrón 2411 “Linces”
The squadron was formed in 2020 to provide advanced training to facilitate a smoother transition to the A-29B.
Aircraft operated: Grob G120TP-A from 2020
Aviation Press would like to thank Mark Forest/Forest Aviation Tours, Sandro Rota/Ecuador Aviation Press and the Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana for their assistance with the visits