Author & photographer:  Ian French

The Aérea de Aviacion (ARAVI) of the Policía Nacional de Colombia’s, headquartered at Bogotà – El Dorado, is primarily a counternarcotics force and its parent organisation is the Dirección de Antinarcóticos (DIRAN) which is the anti-narcotics directorate.

It is worth revisiting the structure of the Policía Nacional since our last visit in 2015.  There are dedicated Base Aérea Antinarcóticos at the following locations:

Bogotà – El Dorado (Fixed wing)

Guaymaral (UH-1H/UH-60)

Neiva – Zona Sur (UH-1H/UH-60)

San José del Guaviare – Zona Oriente (UH-1H/UH-60)

Santa Marta – Zona Norte (B212/UH-60)

Tulua – Zona Occidente (UH-1H/UH-60)

In addition, the Escuela de Entrenamiento de Aviacion (ESAVI) is based at José Celestino Mutiz, Mariquita and operates Bell 206, Bell UH-1H-II, Cessna 150, 152 and 172.

The Department of State Air Wing operates detachments at Bogotà – El Dorado with the Cessna 208 and at Larandia, San José del Guaviare and at Tumaco all with the Air Tractor AT-802 which is used for aerial spraying.

The other arm of ARAVI is the Policía Metropolitana.  Detachments are based at:

Bogotà – El Dorado (MEBOG), B206L/B407/C.TU206G/H369D, PA-31

Bucaramanga (MEBUC), B206L

Cartagena (MECAR), H369D

Cali (MECAL), B206L

Valle de Aburra, Medellin (MEVAL), B206L

Neiva, C.TU206G

Pereira, B206L

Cucuta, C.TU206G

Villavicencio, C.TU206G

Barranquilla, C.TU206G

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A significant development since our last visit was the loss of a Sikorsky UH-60L Blackhawk.  The insurance proceeds from this facilitated the acquisition of 10 surplus US Army UH-60As thereby doubling the size of the fleet.

Another development is the Urban Aerial Vigilance Programme.  The Bell 407 fleet is being fitted with state of the art electronic tracking, reconnaissance, monitoring and communications equipment including moving maps, Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR), tracking beams and digital video, audio and telemetric communications.  It is planned to have a fully equipped Bell 407 based at each of the largest cities.  The helicopter can communicate with forces on the ground in real time and provide them with images of what the helicopter is seeing.

Aviation Press Ltd would like to thank Brigadier General Fabián Laurence Cárdenas Leonel for hosting our visit and Paolo Di Biagio, and Mark Forest for their help in arranging the visit.

Aviation Press Limited owns the copyrights to this article & associated photographs.