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Dominican Republic Air Force

The Dominican Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Dominicana, or FAD) is a small force with little combat capability. The FAD is organized into at least four commands, with the air command, maintenance command, support command, and base defense command located at San Isidro air base. The FAD has no night-flying capability.

Air force strength is 5,500 personnel [as of 2014], including one airborne company (also referred to as a special forces unit) and an air defense battalion armed with four 20-mm guns. The Dominican Air Force has no reserve personnel.

The Dominican Air Force is a counterinsurgency, transport, and training force. Its primary mission is transport and logistic support of the land forces, with secondary missions including observation patrols and search-and-rescue (SAR).

Air force cadets pursue the first 2 of their 4-year course at the Military Academy at Haina before transferring to the Military Aviation School (Escuela de Aviacion Militar) at San Isidro air base for specialist training.

Major bases are located at Azua, Barahona, La Romana, La Vega, Monte Cristi, Puerta Plata, Saibo, San Isidro (Santo Domingo), and Santiago. The air force divides the country into two air zones: the southern air zone is headquartered at San Isidro, and the northern air zone is headquartered at at Santiago de los Caballeros.

Most aircraft are based at San Isidro. Only San Isidro, Santiago, and Barahona had permanently deployed operational units as of 2014. San Isidro has seven T-34Bs, four 0-2As, eight A-37s, five UH-1H helicopters, and one Queen Air prop aircraft. Aircraft readiness at San Isidro is at 40 percent.

The air force traces its origins to 1928, when the government, inspired by the use of air power in World War I, authorized the creation of an aviation school. The first military aviation element was formed in 1932 as an arm of the National Army. The air force became an independent service in 1948. After several name changes, it has been officially designated as the Dominican Air Force since 1962.

Beginning in 1942, with the grant of base facilities to the United States, the Dominican Republic received shipments of aircraft under the Lend-Lease program, mostly light trainers. Later, after the signing of the Rio Treaty in 1947, the United States provided twenty-five F-47 fighter-bombers, plus C-46 and C-47 transports and additional trainers. Trujillo later purchased two B-17 and two B-25 bombers from commercial sources. In 1952 he made a large purchase ofjet fighter-bombers from Sweden and F-51Ds from the United States.

By the mid-1950s, the air force had some 240 aircraft and some 3,500 uniformed personnel. After Trujillo's assassination, however, funds were not forthcoming for the replacement of aging aircraft, and the air force's capabilities dwindled rapidly. Air force headquarters are located at San Isidro Air Base near Santo Domingo. Most aircraft were based at San Isidro as well. The second large base is La Union at Puerto Plata on the north coast. Smaller bases were at Barahona, La Romana, and Pedernales, with airstrips at Constanza in the central mountainous area and Dajabon, on the Haitian border. The air force administers the general military medical center located in San Isidro. The air force also runs the nation's Civil Aeronautics Directorate, and air force officers oversee the operation of the nation's airports.

The air force, numbering some 5,500 personnel in 1998, is organized into three flying squadrons. The counterinsurgency squadron is equipped with eight Cessna A-37B Dragonflies. The A-37B, developed from the T-37 jet trainer, can land on short, unimproved airstrips. It is armed with a machine gun and can carry a light load of bombs or other munitions. The transport squadron uses three C-47 Douglas Dakotas and one Commander 680, and the helicopter squadron had as its principal units eight Bell 205s for search-and-air rescue and transport. Various small aircraft were used for liaison and training purposes. The air force carried out routine antidrug reconnaissance patrols, but is often grounded because of lack of fuel and spare parts.

The Base Defense Command provided security for all bases and aircraft. It includes an airborne Special Forces unit and an air police unit, both of approximately battalion size, and an antiaircraft battalion equipped with four 20mm guns. The Maintenance Command is responsible for maintenance and repair. The Combat Support Command supplies all base services. Air force cadets attend the Army Military Academy at San Isidro for three years, then spend their fourth year at the Frank Feliz Miranda Aviation School, also at San Isidro.





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