Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) Brazilian Air Force
Established in 1941, the FAB (Brazilian Air Force) is the newest of the services and gradually has gained a larger share of the budget. The strength of the FAB--50,000 members in 1997 (including 5,000 conscripts), 272 combat aircraft, and forty-five armed helicopters--makes it the largest air force in Latin America. The FAB's budget is relatively large because of its civil air budget.
The minister of aeronautics, in addition to commanding the air force, controls all civil air activities: the construction and operation of airports through the Brazilian Airport Infrastructure Firm (Empresa Brasileira de Infraestructura Aeroportuária--Infraero), and air traffic control through the Civil Aviation Department (Departamento de Aviação Civil--DAC). The line of military command extends from the minister through his chief of staff, who heads the Air Force General Staff (Estado-Maior da Aeronáutica--EMAer), down to the commanders of the three general commands: General Air Command (Comando Geral do Ar), General Support Command (Comando Geral de Apoio), and General Personnel Command (Comando Geral do Pessoal) and three departments: Research and Development, Civil Aviation, and Training. There are also seven regional air commands under the General Air Command that cover the entire country. Numbered from one to seven, the headquarters of the regional air commands include Belém, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Brasília, and Manaus.
Under the control of the regional air commands are more than 800 aircraft of different types (fighter, attack, patrol, SAR, transport, helicopters and reconnaissance). These are grouped into Esquadrões (squadrons) which form Grupos (groups). According to its tasks, the different Grupos are: Grupo de Aviação (GAV: fighter, attack, SAR, helicopter), Grupo de Defesa Aérea(GDA: interception), Grupo de Transporte(GT: transport, flight refuelling), Grupo de Transporte de Tropa (GTT: transport, troop carrying and parachutist drop). Other smaller units are the Esquadrões de Instrução Aérea - EIA (flight instruction squadrons) and the FAB aerobatics squadron, or Esquadrão de Demonstração Aérea.
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