Venezuela Table of Contents
The air force benefited greatly from purchases of upgraded hardware in the 1970s and 1980s. The most highly publicized defense acquisition of the 1980s was the purchase of twenty-four F-16 fighters from the United States. At the time of their delivery in 1984-85, the F-16s represented the most advanced military aircraft in the inventory of any South American air force. In 1990 other comparatively advanced aircraft in service in Venezuela included the French Mirage 50 and older-model Mirage IIIs and Mirage Vs, retrofitted to meet the more advanced performance standards of the Mirage 50s (see table 15, Appendix). In June 1990, the air force also let a contract with Singapore Aerospace Industries to upgrade its older, American-made CF-5A and CF-5B fighter aircraft.
In 1990 the ranks of the air force included some 5,000 personnel, very few of whom were conscripts. The service, headed by the Commander of the Air Forces, was organized into three commands: the Air Combat Command, the Air Logistics Command, and the Air Training Command. Combat aircraft were organized into three attack groups: one bomber group and two special operations groups. The bomber group included one squadron equipped with Mirage fighter-bombers and based in Palo Negro; two squadrons, based in Barquisimeto and Barcelona, equipped with CF-5s; and two F-16 squadrons, also based in Palo Negro. Two squadrons of heavier bombers, British-made Canberras, were based in Barquisimeto and Barcelona.
The Air Logistics Command controlled three transport groups, including the Presidential Squadron based in Caracas. The logistics command also owned reconnaissance aircraft and transport helicopters. The primary transport aircraft were the American-made C-130H and C-123.
The Air Training Command included Air Training Group Number 14, which was attached to the Military Aviation School at Maracay. The primary training craft were the T-34, the T-2D, and the EMB-312 Tucano. The six F-16B two-seat trainers were attached to the fighter squadrons. The air force required its officer candidates to complete a four-year course of study at Maracay before receiving their commissions. The air force also had a number of specialist schools as well as its own Command and Staff School for advanced military studies.
Data as of December 1990