Brazilian Air Force

Brazilian Air Force

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Brazilian Air Force
"Força Aérea Brasileira"

caption= President Lula reviews the soldiers of Brazilian Air Force
dates= 1941 -
country= BRA
branch= Air Force
size= 73,764 active personnel
773 aircraft
command_structure= Ministry of Defence
garrison= Brasília/DF
garrison_label= Command Headquarters
patron= Alberto Santos Dumont [Aeronautical - [] ]
Eduardo Gomes [Brazilian Air Force - [] ]
motto= "Wings who protect the country"
march= "Hino dos Aviadores"
battles= World War II
anniversaries=May 22 (anniversary)
April 22 (fighter day)
commander1= President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
commander1_label= Commander-in-Chief
commander2= Lieutenant-Brigadier Juniti Saito
commander2_label= Commander
identification_symbol_label= Roundel
aircraft_attack= AMX, Super Tucano
aircraft_bomber= A-1
aircraft_fighter= Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II
aircraft_interceptor= Dassault Mirage 2000
aircraft_recon= Embraer R-99
aircraft_patrol= Lockheed P-3 Orion, Bandeirulha C-95
aircraft_trainer= Tucano, AT-26 Xavante
aircraft_transport= C-130, C-295, C-212, 707, UH-1H
aircraft_tanker= KC-137, KC-130
The Brazilian Air Force (Portuguese: "Força Aérea Brasileira", FAB) is the air branch of the Brazilian armed forces and one of the three national uniformed services. The FAB was formed when the Army and Navy air branch were merged into a single military force initially called "National Air Forces". Both air branches transferred their equipments, installations and personnel to the new force.

The FAB is the largest air force in Latin America, with about 700 manned aircraft in service, and, as of August, 2008, 66,109 personnel on active duty. An additional 7,655 civilian personnel are employed [ [ Sala de imprensa - FAB em números] ] .



The establishment of the Royal Air Force in 1918 and the creation of the Italian Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) and the French Air Force during the 1920s drove the idea of uniting Brazilian air power under the same organization. Together with these events the Brazilian strategists were also influenced by the theories of Giulio Douhet, Billy Mitchell and Hugh Montague Trenchard.

The first public manifest [INCAER, 1991 - História Geral da Aeronáutica vol. 3, Capítulo 1] to create an integrated military air service came up in 1928 when an army Major called Lysias Rodrigues wrote an article called “An urgent need: The Ministry of the Air” ("“Uma premente necessidade: o Ministério do Ar”"). Two years later the French Military Mission, working for the Brazilian Army, made the first steps to organize a national air arm. The idea got more support when a group of Brazilian airmen came from Italy in 1934 and explained the advantages of having a military aviation unified. Also, the Spanish Revolution and the first movements of World War II at the end of the thirties showed the importance of Air power for military strategies.

One of the main supporters of the plan to create an independent air arm was the then-president Getúlio Vargas. He organized a study group early in 1940 and the whole structure of the Ministry of Aeronautics ("Ministério da Aeronáutica") was established the end of that year. This new governmental agency was responsible for the all aspects of the civil and military aviation including infrastructure, regulation and organization.

Formally, the Ministry of Aeronautics was founded on January 20, 1941 and so its military branch called "National Air Forces", changed to “Brazilian Air Force” ("Força Aérea Brasileira" - "FAB") on May, 22. The Army ("“Aviação Militar”") and Navy ("“Aviação Naval”") air branches were extinguished and all personnel, aircraft, installations and other related equipment were transferred to FAB.

FAB goes to war

Equipped with American airplanes, mainly the P-47 Thunderbolt, the FAB saw action on the Italian front. The work of the pilots and support personnel was recognized by a Presidential Unit Citation issued on April 26th, 1986--one of only four non-US squadrons to receive such a citation.

Post World War II

After the war, the FAB began flying the British Gloster Meteor jet fighter. The jets were purchased from the British for 15,000 tons of crude cotton, as Brazil had no foreign currency reserves to spare. The jet was operated by the FAB until the mid-1960s, when it was replaced by the F-80C and TF-33A, which were later replaced by the F-5 and Mirage III jets.

Cold War

During the Cold War, the Brazilian Republic was aligned with the United States and NATO. This meant that the F-5 could be bought cheaply from the United States, who called this jet the "Freedom Fighter". Many other countries, such as Mexico, also benefited from this policy.

The Embraer (Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica, "Brazilian Aeronautic Co.") has its origins as an enterprise directly managed and sponsored by the FAB. Working with Italian corporations, it developed the new AMX attack aircraft (known locally as A-1) which makes up the backbone of the FAB's attack force. The successful Tucano T-27 trainer and the new light attack aircraft "A-29," are also Embraer aircraft used extensively by the FAB.


In the early 2000s, with renewed economic stability, the FAB underwent an extensive renewal of its inventory through several acquisition programs, the most ambitious of which was the acquisition of 36 new front-line interceptor aircraft to replace its aging Mirage III. Known as F-X Project the program was postponed once again in 2005 and the final decision now will be made around 2011. The former competitors were the General Dynamics F-16, the Dassault Rafale, the SAAB-BAE Gripen, and the Sukhoi Su-35.

On July 15, 2005 one agreement was set with the French government for the transfer of twelve Dassault Mirage 2000s (ten "C" and two "B" versions) second-hand ex-Armée de L’Air. Known as F-2000s in Brazil, the first two aircraft arrived at Anápolis Air Base on September 4, 2006.

On November 4, 2007 the F-X Project underwent a small change. Now known as Project FX-2 and with a bigger budget, the competitors for acquisition are now the Eurofighter Typhoon, Sukhoi Su-35, Saab Gripen, Dassault Rafale, Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and, although information on Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II was requested, Lockheed Martin presented an F-16 Fighting Falcon variant (designated F-16BR). [ [] Aviation Week - Brazil Offered F-16s, Not F-35s]

Other programs, however, were successfully completed and included the following (as of May 2007):

* ALX (Light Attack Aircraft) Program - 99 Super Tucano aircraft. Being delivered.
* F-5M Program - Upgrade of Northrop F-5 to F-5EM standard. Include new radar, avionics and weapons systems. Being delivered.
* CL-X (Medium Transport Aircraft) - Replacement of DHC-5 Buffalo aircraft. 12 CASA C-295 aircraft acquired. Being delivered.
* P-X (Maritime Patrol) Program- Replacement of EMB-111A aircraft for modernized P-3 airframes with EADS avionics. Being implemented.
* Interim Mirage 2000C purchase. Delivered as June 2008.
* Acquisition of presidential transport aircraft, known as FAB 001. An Airbus ACJ was bought and delivered in 2005.
* Acquisition of 17 'Super Cougar'. VIP Transport and Military transport should be their primary function.

Pending programs:
* CT-X (Light Transport Aircraft) Program- To replace the C-95 Bandeirante. CASA C-212-400 Aviocar is the likely choice.
* A-1M Program - Upgrade of the AMX International AMX in use in FAB. Include new radar, avionics and weapons systems. The upgrade starts late 2008 or early 2009, and should be finished in 2012.

Command structure

The Brazilian Air Force is the aerospace branch of the Brazilian armed forces and is managed by the "Aeronautics Command" ("Comando da Aeronáutica" - COMAer). The COMAer was created in 1999 [ [ Lei complementar no97 de 9 de junho de 1999] ] and replaced the Ministry of Aeronautics. Now, the COMAer is one of the three armed forces assigned to the Ministry of Defense ("Ministério da Defesa").

The COMAer is led by the "Aeronautics Commander" ("Comandante da Aeronáutica"). Unlike USAF, the Commander is a "“Tenente-Brigadeiro-do-Ar”" (the most senior rank used in the Air Force, which is essentially the same as a USAF four-star general). He is nominated by the President and reports directly to the Minister of Defense.

COMAer comprises six major components, four "General Commands" ("Comandos-Gerais") and two "Departaments" ("Departamentos"). The "General Command of Air Operations" ("Comando-Geral de Operações Aéreas" - COMGAR), with headquarters in Brasilia, supervises most of the flying operations. As the main flying element, COMGAR administers several sub-formations in the form of four “Air Forces” ("Forças Aéreas") and seven “Regional Air Commands” ("Comandos Aéreos Regionais" - COMAR).

Besides COMGAR, other major parallel organizations, which also report directly to the COMAer, are the “General Command of Support” ("Comando-Geral de Apoio" - COMGAP), “General Command of Personnel” ("Comando-Geral de Pessoal" - COMGEP), “General Command of Aerospatial Technology” ("Comando-Geral de Tecnologia Aeroespacial" - DEPED), “Aeronautics Departament of Teaching” ("Departamento de Ensino da Aeronáutica" - DEPENS), “Departament of Civil Aviation” ("Departamento de Aviação Civil" - DAC) and “Departament of Airspace Control” ("Departamento de Controle do Espaço Aéreo" - DECEA).

Air units organization

At unit levels, "Groups" ("Grupos") usually consist of one to sixteen consecutively-numbered "Squadrons" ("Esquadrões"), each with varying numbers of aircraft, usually from six to 12. Smaller formations are known as "flights" ("Esquadrilhas"). According to its tasks, a group has one of the following designations:

* Air Defense Group: "Grupo de Defesa Aérea" (GDA): Air defense fighters. (Fighter Jets)
* Transport Group: "Grupo de Transporte" (GT): Transport, Flight refueling
* Aviation Group: "Grupo de Aviação" (GAv): Fighter, attack, reconnaissance, SAR, rotary wing
* Fighter Aviation Group: "Grupo de Aviação de Caça" (GAvCa); Fighter, attack planes
* Troop Transport Group: "Grupo de Transporte de Tropas" (GTT): Transports, troop carrying, parachutist drop
* Special Flight Inspection Group: "Grupo Especial de Inspeção em Vôo" (GEIV): Calibration
* Special Test Flights Group: "Grupo Especial de Ensaios de Vôo" (GEEV): Test flights
* Special Transport Group: "Grupo de Transporte Especial" (GTE): VIP transport

Common used designations for squadrons are:
* Air Transport Squadron: "Esquadrão de Transporte Aéreo" (ETA)
* Air Training Squadron: "Esquadrão de Instrução Aérea" (EIA)
* Demonstration flying team: " Esquadrão de Demonstração Aérea" (EDA) (also called "Esquadrilha da Fumaça")

The air units are organized as follows:

The Brazilian Army also operates rotary-wing aircraft, while the Brazilian Navy operates both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.


ee also

* Aerial Demonstration Squadron
* Brazilian Naval Aviation
* Brazilian Navy
* Brazilian Army
* Military ranks of Brazil
* Military history of Brazil
* Brazil and weapons of mass destruction

External links

* [ Brazilian Air Force website] pt icon
* [ Brazilian Air Force page] at Scramble
* [ History of Brazilian Air Force in World War II] pt icon
* [ History of the Brazilian Air Force]
* [ Milavia - Brazilian Air Force]
* [ Military orders and medals from Brazil] (in Portuguese)

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