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El Salvador Table of Contents

El Salvador

The Air Force

In 1988 the Salvadoran Air Force had over 2,000 personnel, including an air defense unit, a security group, and some conscripts. The antiaircraft artillery battalion was equipped with twenty-four Yugoslav-made M-55 20mm guns and four selfpropelled guns and was staffed with army personnel. From the mid1970s to the late 1980s, the air force had acquired aircraft from Israel (French-made), France, Brazil, and the United States. Although the air force suffered a major setback on January 27, 1982, when guerrillas attacked Ilopango Air Base outside San Salvador and destroyed 75 percent of the air force's inventory, the United States delivered replacement aircraft within weeks. With additional United States assistance, the air force built up quickly in 1985 and by late 1986 had a large helicopter force and a variety of other aircraft (see table 8, Appendix). Attrition continued to be high in the late 1980s, with a number of helicopters and other aircraft downed by guerrilla forces or mechanical failure.

In the late 1980s, the Salvadoran Air Force was organized into the Military Aviation School (Escuela de Aviacion Militar-- EAM) and five squadrons: the Hunter Squadron (Escuadrilla de Caza), based in San Miguel; the Hunter Bomber Squadron (Escuadrilla de Caza Bombardeo), based at Ilopango Air Base; the Attack Squadron (Escuadrilla de Ataque) and the Transport Squadron (Escuadrilla de Transporte), also based at Ilopango; and the growing Helicopter Squadron (Escuadrilla de Helicoptero), with aircraft based at both Ilopango and San Miguel.

Data as of November 1988