El Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. El Salvador was explored and settled by the Spanish in the 16th century and remained a territory of Spain until 1821, when it joined Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in a union named the Federal Republic of Central America. Independence day is celebrated on 15 September 2021.
The birth of the FAS can be traced back to World War I. A milestone was reached in January 1917 when the Mexican government donated two TNCA Serie A aircraft to El Salvador. Subsequently, the Flotilla Aérea Salvadoreña was formed per decree on 20 March 1923 in this period of booming aviation interest. The first aircraft arrived in 1924, the economic situation in the thirties made growth difficult, but more aircraft gradually arrived. A period of turmoil followed in the forties, typical aircraft of the time were AT-6, BT-13, and the first two of many Dakotas (R4D-1 models). The fifties saw the arrival of more aircraft, the backbone of the FAS was formed by twenty FG-1D Corsairs. The Corsairs soldiered on for a decade. However, the state of these aircraft was worsening and by 1968 only five were in airworthy condition and at the same time the tension with Honduras was rising, prompting the acquisition of six Cavalier F-51 Mustang IIs and a single B-26B. These saw service in the 100 hour war with Honduras in July 1969.
The first jets for FAS arrived in the seventies when a number of CM170s and eighteen MD450s were received from Israel along with four Aravas. The eighties saw the arrival of the A-37 greatly enhancing the counter-insurgency possibilities of the FAS performed in close co-operation with Dakota, Huey and Hughes 500s. However, it was not until the late nineties before some additions could be welcomed again. The sharp end of FAS is still being formed by OA-37s, with deliveries from Chile significantly boosting the number of active aircraft in the 2010s. Recent programmes include the upgrade of Huey helicopters to Super Huey II.