Spanish Air Arms / Ejército del Aire, FAMET, Armada
By Eddy Wierenga
The birth of Spanish military aviation can be traced back to December 1896, when the Servicio Militar de Aerostacio, a balloon force, was established. The first aircraft came in March 1911, when the Aeronautica Militar Espanola (AME) was established by the Army.
In 1936, General Franco started a revolution in Morrocco. This led to the Spanish Civil War in which the Republican (government) Forces fought with help from Britain, France, the USA and Russia against the nationalist forces of Franco and his allies, Germany and Italy. The civil war provided Germany with an opportunity to test its newly erected Luftwaffe and its modern warplanes. Tragic alltime low was the German bombing of the city of Guerníca, later remembered by Picasso in his painting "Guerníca".
In July 1936, the AME split into a Republican Air Force and a Nationalist Air Force. On 29 March 1939, the Republican Forces surrendered to Franco. Subsequently, on 9 November 1939, the Ejercito del Aire (EdA) was formed from the Nationalist AF and the remainder of the Republican AF was absorbed.
Spain stayed neutral during WW II. During the Cold War, Spain was drawn to the West. In 1953, an agreement was made with the United States: Spain received military aid in exchange for the American use of military facilities in the country.
Spanish naval aviation first came to life in November 1954, when the Arma Aerea de la Armada Espanola (Spanish Fleet Air Arm) was established.
The Spanish army aviation was established on 10 July 1965 as Aviacion Ligera del Ejercito de Tierra. It was renamed Fuerza Aeromóviles del Ejército de Tierra (FAMET) in March 1973.
When Franco died in 1975 democracy was restored. This made it possible for Spain to join NATO in 1982.
Nowadays the Spanish armed forces are in a continuous process of modernization. Various aircraft types, including the EF-18A/B Hornet, the P-3B Orion and the AV-8B Matador, underwent system upgrade programs increasing their capabilities and prolonging their service life span. Unfortunately, other types of aircraft fall victim to budget cuts and the need for progress. Examples that are gradually disappearing from the inventory include the C212 Aviocar, but also the Mirage F1 and the Bo105 that will soon be replaced by the Eurofighter and the Tiger, respectively.
Most important current deliveries to the armed forces include an order of 87 Eurofighters for the Air Force and various helicopter types to all services.