Mexican Air Force Undergoes Modernization

Mexican Air Force Undergoes Modernization

By Geraldine Cook, Diálogo
August 06, 2018

The Mexican Air Force is renewing its air fleet and creating new strategies to combat transnational criminal organizations.

The goal of Major General Miguel Enrique Vallín Osuna, commander of the Mexican Air Force (FAM, in Spanish), is to build an organization with strong strategic and immediate response capabilities, as well as tactic mobility. To that end, he is boosting FAM’s training and personnel, modernizing its air fleet and infrastructure, and implementing strategies to properly defend national integrity, independence, and sovereignty.

Maj. Gen. Vallín took part in the LVIII Conference of Chiefs of the American Air Forces (CONJEFAMER, in Spanish) in Panama City, Panama, June 19–21, 2018. The military leader spoke with Diálogo about his participation at the event, international cooperation, and the progress of Plan 2030, among other topics.

Diálogo: What’s the importance of Mexico’s participation in the LVIII CONJEFAMER?

Major General Miguel Enrique Vallín Osuna, commander of the Mexican Air Force: As an active member of the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces (SICOFAA, in Spanish), it’s important to attend CONJEFAMER to participate with voice and vote in all decisions, like all members. Here, tasks and activities are agreed upon for the next annual cycle, which starts with this meeting of air force commanders.

Diálogo: Why is it important for FAM to be part of SICOFAA? What are the benefits?

Maj. Gen. Vallín: It’s essential for FAM to be part of SICOFAA—like the rest of member nations—for the information, experience, and knowledge exchanged. We must be prepared in our different fields of interest, from conferences on aerospace medicine and humanitarian assistance to combined air operations, especially in operational and logistics planning, so as to be ready for a particular operation or event.

Diálogo: By late 2018, FAM plans to finish the first of three stages of modernization expected for Plan 2030. What does this first phase consist of?

Maj. Gen. Vallín: Plan 2030 is an internal strategy of the Mexican Defense Department, which counts with the participation of several units of the General Staff. The plan was set up with three main stages. The first is to restructure the air force personnel, such as by increasing the number of women in military units and institutions. The second stage involves equipment to modernize the air fleet, and the third has to do with infrastructure. In this first stage, during President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration, 41 rotary-wing aircraft (Black Hawk, EC725 Cougar, and Bell 407GX), 102 fixed-wing aircraft (T-6C Texan, C-295M/W, C-27J Spartan, Grop G 120TP, and Boeing 737-800), and two unmanned aerial vehicles were purchased.

Diálogo: How does FAM prepare for humanitarian assistance and natural disaster response?

Maj. Gen. Vallín: We prepare FAM units in various ways. We do it with simulated exercises in coordination with the Mexican Army. We have the Training Center for the Army and Air Force, where our officers attend civil protection courses to learn about doctrine and standard procedures. We also have our own 50+-year experience with Plan DN-III-E (a disaster relief plan for the population). This plan, the operational tool of the general guidelines the Army and Air Force use in disaster relief assistance to the population, enables the military to act in the same order from the high commands and officers, so that we know what to do when helping the community and are prepared to act immediately.

Diálogo: FAM has a very important role in the fight against narcotrafficking in Mexico. What other new combat strategies were consolidated in this regard?

Maj. Gen. Vallín: One of the strategies is the deployment of fumigation squads in areas where marijuana and poppy crops are abundant. These squads work twice a year, based on the cycle of drug crops. Helicopters support the operations and help with ground reconnaissance and transport in hard-to-reach areas.

Diálogo: What kind of international collaboration exists between FAM and the U.S. Air Force?

Maj. Gen. Vallín: There’s a bilateral cooperation relationship in every aspect of our armed and air forces—operational, logistics, and training. This cooperation enables good understanding between both countries.