Fuerza Aérea Mexicana
The Fuerza Aérea Mexicana (FAM) was founded during the revolutionary period, when different factions used aircraft for aerial reconnaissance and bombings on ships as well as enemy positions. The first naval air combat on the American continent occurred in 1914 in Mexico. The Air Service, later known as the FAM, established an airfield at Balbuena, near Mexico City. Aviation workshops producing aircraft of national design were also established. The FAM participated in many campaigns in the 20s and 30s in support of the army in putting down rebel factions and armed bands. During WW II the FAM undertook anti-submarine patrols using armed AT-6 Texans and Vought Kingfishers. During the second half of the war the 201st Mexican Fighter Squadron fought in the liberation of the Philippines in 1945, flying Republic P-47D Thunderbolt fighterbombers, that would later serve in the post war FAM. In the 60s the FAM received its first jet aircraft, T-33A and the Vampire Mk3, forming the first jet squadrons, followed by F-5 supersonic fighters and dozens of PC-7 light attack aircraft in the early 80s. In the late 90s many Russian built helicopters were procured, another batch of Hercules transports were acquired from the UK Israel, boosting the FAM's heavylift capacities. More helicopters followed, Bell 412EPs were delivered in the 2000s and EC725 Cougars in the 2010s. With the arrival of three EMB145s the FAM received a considerable airborne early warning capacity. The FAM's medium-lift capacity has been enhanced with the delivery of C295s and C-27Js. The venerable T-bird was finally withdrawn in 2007, and most PC-7s were replaced by T-6C+ Texan IIs. Despite many rumours, no successor for the old F-5s has yet been chosen. The latest policy sees a sharp decrease in the number of VIP-transports available for the political and military top brass.
Armada de Mexico - Fuerza Aeronaval
The history of Mexican naval aviation goes back to 1918, when a Mexican built float biplane TNCA Serie A was successfully tested at the port of Veracruz. Between 1927 to 1943, a few aircraft were acquired: a few floatplanes. A naval aviation school was created at Las Bajadas, Veracruz, in 1943, the first aviation unit was also created in 1943: the 1er. Escuadron Aeronaval flew six OS2U-3 Kingfishers OS2U-3s. These were ex-FAM aircraft, initially used to patrol the Gulf of Mexico for submarines. In the post war years, the role of naval aviation was defined as supporting the ground and sea naval units in SAR, coastal patrol and assistance to the general population in case of emergencies or disasters. For the last reason, aircraft like the Consolidated PBY Catalina, Beech C-45, Bell 47, and Grumman J2F-6 Ducks were among the various types of aircraft that were acquired, also including Boeing Kaydets and Beech T-34s for training.
In the 90s, like the FAM, the navy acquired Russian built aircraft and helicopters like the Mil Mi-2, Mil Mi-17 and Antonov An-32B, supplemented by French, American and German made helicopters and Finnish built L-90 Redigos. In 1999, the navy started a programme to build kit planes and light helicopters at Las Bajadas. In the early 2000s, naval aviation reported to have 118 aircraft, of which 68 are fixed wing in 9 squadrons and 50 helicopters in 9 squadrons, either in land bases or assigned on board of ocean patrol boats and frigates. Additions around the turn of the century included MD902 Explorers for shipborne duties, ten Zlin 242Ls for basic pilot training, and more Mi-17s. In 2004, three ex-Israeli E-2C Hawkeyes were delivered, but their spell with the navy proved unsuccessful and they were soon grounded due to a lack of spareparts for their outdated radars. C212 Aviocars and Bo105 helicopters were upgraded and taken back in service in 2004. AS565 Panthers were for shipborne duties and more Panthers and Mi-8s have followed since. In the 2000s C295s and CN235MPAs replaced the older types. The navy still uses a large variety of types, which should be logistical nightmare. Recent additions are UH-60M Black Hawks and a handful of EC725 Cougars, whilst the NH90 is eyed for long range shipborne duties and the venerable Maules will be replaced.
Guardia Nacional (GN)
The Guardia Nacional is a new force, founded on the existing structures of the Policía Federal (federal police), which itself was formed out of the Policía Federal de Caminos y Puertos in 1998. In 2019, the Guardia Nacional was formed, merging the federal police with the military police forces of the army and navy in one organisation. Although the main task of its air element is transportation of police forces providing federal internal security, the element also operates helicopters for patrol duties, assault, search and rescue etc. Mexico City IAP is the main base of the GN's fixed wing aviation element, the main helicopter base is at Itzapalapa (Mexico City).
State Security Organizations
Whereas federal security is the main task of the Guardia Nacional, state governments direct their own security forces at state level. Their primary tasking is to provide security and disaster response on state level. Many states operate a fleet fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, which also provides VIP-transport for the state government. The number of VIP-aircraft and helicopters operated by the state governments has however drastically been reduced since late 2018.