Columbus named the island Hispaniola (little Spain). Hispaniola, however, ran out of gold rather quickly and lost prominence when gold and silver were discovered in Mexico and Peru. Pirates ransacked Spanish settlements and Spain gave up on the western third of the island and ceded it to France in 1697 - a decision it no doubt came to rue as France turned Haiti into the world's richest sugar cane producer. The Dominican population fought the Spanish troops and on 3 March 1865, full independence was granted, and years of violence and dictatorship followed. Despite continuing economic difficulties and repeated allegations of corruption, the PRD has presided over a more stable political environment in the last few years.
The Arma de Aviación del Ejército Nacional was formed in 1932 and marked the official birth of military aviation. Until the Dominican Republic declared war to the Axis powers in 1942 only limited operations took place. Whilst granting the United States base facilities in the country more equipment was received like the AT-6 Texan, PT-17 Kaydet and BT-13 Vultee. Strongman Trujillo obtained Mosquito's and Beaufighters from the United Kingdom and later, US aircraft deliveries rose with a large number of AT-6 Texans and ten , P-38 Lightnings.
On February 15th, 1948 the Cuerpo de Aviación Militar Dominicana was formed marking the birth of the current air force. A new air base was inaugurated at San Isidro, just east of Santo Domingo. In the early fifties, the air force grew to maturity receiving large quantities of F-51 Mustangs and Vampire jet fighters from Sweden. By then, the FAD maintained by far the largest air force in the region. During the civil war and rebellion in the mid-sixties some aircraft were lost by hostile fire. The only aircraft received were a handful of T-28 Trojan COIN aircraft as well as some helicopters. US aid during the seventies granted the acquisition of T-34Bs and T-41Ds Mescaleros, but the FAD never rose to its former glory again.
Like many Latin American air forces, the OA-37B became part of the inventory. Acquisitions during the eighties and early nineties were mainly impounded from narcotraffickers. The transport capabilities were enhanced by three CASA 212s. The definitive choice for the A-37-replacement, was finally made and eight Super Tucanos have been delivered.
The air arm of the army was revived in October 2002, with the formation of the Escuadrón de Caballeria Aérea. Robinson helicopters were obtained, followed by eight ex-US Army OH-58A/C Kiowas in 2003, enhancing the force's growing capabilities. The main base is La Isabela near Santo Domingo.