Mariano García and José Quevedo review the status of Mexico’s intelligence-gathering fleet, among the most complex in the region, and one that operates manned and unmanned platforms in a variety of roles.

EMB-145RS/AGS serial 4112 (c/n 145723, ex PP-XJM) of the FAM’s Escuadrón de Vigilancia Aérea. The air force’s two EMB-145RS/AGS aircraft are probably the most capable ISR platforms in the FAM inventory. Ivan Cabrero

Forty years ago, Mexican aerial intelligence relied upon a handful of IAI Aravas to monitor radio broadcasts and a single King Air C90 modified for photo reconnaissance. It wasn’t until the appearance of the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN, Zapatista National Liberation Army) in 1994 that the Fuerza Aérea Mexicana (FAM, Mexican Air Force) and the Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional (SEDENA, National Defence Secretariat) began to fill some of the gaps in its aerial surveillance network.

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