Uruguay Air Force
Military aviation began in 1913 as the Military Aeronautics Branch of the army, and as early as 1916 a flight training school was established near Montevideo. By the 1930s, the service comprised one bomber and three reconnaissance flights. It operated out of bases at Paso de Mendoza near Montevideo, at Durazno, and at the Military Air School at Pando in Canelones Department.
Beginning in the late 1940s, United States military assistance focused on military aviation, and the inventory of military aircraft increased in number and quality. The Air Force Academy was established at Pando in 1950, and aviation instruction formerly conducted at the Military Academy was discontinued. In late 1953, the Uruguayan Air Force, which had continued to function as an integral part of the army, was established as an autonomous organization, equal in status with the army and the navy.
During the 1950s, the air force inventory was relatively well developed. As equipment aged, however, economic constraints prevented replacement, and the inventory grew smaller. By 1990 the air force had shrunk to a very modest size (about 100 aircraft) and operated largely obsolete equipment. Given the nation's continued economic problems and the low-threat environment, the air force appeared likely to remain a well-trained, professional force but one that was poorly equipped.
Air force strength in 1990 was 3,500, down from 4,400 in 1983. The air force was equipped with eighteen combat aircraft, seven of which were used principally as trainers. The air force generally operated out of bases at Paso de Mendoza, Carrasco, Durazno, Laguna del Sauce, Laguna Negra, and Punta del Este.
The commander of the air force was assisted by a staff with sections for personnel, intelligence, operations, and materiel. The air force was organized into tactical, training, and materiel commands. The Tactical Air Command, whose headquarters were at Carrasco Air Base outside of Montevideo, was responsible for the operation of most of the service's assets. These were apportioned between two air brigades. The first had one fighter squadron, three transport squadrons (which were also responsible for regular civilian flights), and a sea-and-air rescue group at Carrasco. The second brigade, at Durazno Air Base, had one training squadron for fighters and one liaison unit with other aircraft.
The Air Training Command, with one training squadron, was headquartered at the General Artigas Military Airport in Pando. It oversaw the Air Force Academy and the Military Air School at Pando and the Command and General Staff School at Carrasco, which provided advanced training for officers. The Air Technical School at Pando gave specialist training to officers and trained air force recruits. The school also trained paratroopers for the army.
Attached to the Air Training Command were a small number of fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. The Air Materiel Command consisted of maintenance, supply, communications, and electronics elements. It also oversaw the administration and operation of military and civilian airfields.
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