Bolivia Table of Contents
La Paz as seen from El Alto
Courtesy Harvey W. Reed
In 1989 FAB encompassed about 4,000 personnel (including about 2,200 conscripts). Its equipment comprised forty-five combat aircraft, and ten armed helicopters (see table 19, Appendix). Although FAB's aircraft were mostly of West European, Brazilian, and United States manufacture, in late 1988 the government was considering the purchase of Soviet cargo aircraft and helicopters.
FAB was under the Ministry of National Defense (it had been under the Ministry of Aeronautics from 1980 to the Paz Zamora administration). FAB was organized into three air brigades with thirteen subordinate air groups. Its nine air bases were located at La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Puerto Suárez, Tarija, Villamontes, Cobija, Riberalta, and Roboré. Major brigade commands included the First Air Brigade (La Paz), Second Air Brigade (Cochabamba), Third Air Brigade (Santa Cruz), and Fourth Air Brigade (also called the Amazonas Air Brigade), created in 1987 and headquartered in the Puerto Suárez area bordering Brazil. The First Air Brigade comprised the Air Fighters Group (Grupo Aéreo Cazador--GAC) 31, Air Transport Groups (Grupos Aéreos de Transporte) 71 and 72, and the National Service of Photogrammetry (Servicio Nacional de Aerofotogrametría--SNA). GAC-31 received the first six of eighteen T-33A fighter aircraft from the United States in 1985. The Second Air Brigade included Cover Air Groups 41, 51, and 52. The Salvage and Rescue Air Group 51 (Grupo Aéreo de Salvataje y Rescate 51--GASR-51) was created in 1984, although predecessor units had operated since 1960. A similar unit, called the Search and Rescue Group 52 (Grupo Aéreo de Búsqueda y Rescate 52--GABR-52) was established in Cobija in 1987. The Third Air Brigade consisted of Hunter Air Groups 32, 33, and 34, and Training Air Groups (Grupos Aéreos de Entrenamiento--GAE) 21 and 22. GAE-21, which trained cadets of the Colmilav, acquired six T-23 Uirapuru trainer aircraft from Brazil and twelve Cessna A-152 Aerobat aircraft and three ATC-710 flight simulators from the United States in 1986. FAB also had Tactical Air Groups (Grupos Aéreos Tácticos) 61 (in Roboré), 62, and 63 (in Villamontes); the Group of Security and Defense of Air Installations (Grupo de Seguridad y Defensa de Instalaciones Aéreas--GSDIA); and GADA-91, GADA-92, and GADA-93. In March 1989, FAB took a major step toward modernizing its force by inaugurating the General Command Systems Department in La Paz, equipped with sophisticated computers.
Data as of December 1989