Contrary to popular belief, the Mexican armed forces are continuing with operations in what remains of the existing Santa Lucia Air Base in parallel to the construction of the new Felipe Ángeles International Airport. As previously reported, the construction of the airport is joined by the construction of a new base, along with living quarters for new military occupants and their families. The old base’s reduced operational volume is the result of both the new airport’s construction and also COVID-19 shutdowns.
As a result of this reduction, 22 planes will be moved out of the base during the first days of June. These aircrafts represent close to a quarter of the base’s total aerial arsenal of nearly 90 planes. Vessels will be moved to a number of different temporary terminals until the airport and the new base are finished. They include heavy military transport aircraft, such as eight CASA C-295s, four Alenia C-27J Spartan and two Lockheed C-130 Hercules. These 14 units will be moved to the Toluca International Airport. Completing the set, four Boeing 737 will be moved to the Mexico City International Airport and four Northrop F-5s will go to a base in Ixtepec, Oaxaca. Meanwhile, all helicopters and other rotorcrafts will remain in Santa Lucia for the time being. Additionally, eight Beechcraft King Air 350s that make up the Aerial Vigilance Squadron will be moved to Queretaro.
In Milenio’s report, crucial maintenance and repair duties will be applied to these aircraft at these temporary terminal points. They are scheduled to be moved back to Santa Lucia on March 22, 2022. Air Force personnel will be temporarily relocated along with these planes that include 180 air traffic controllers, meteorologists, aircraft mechanics, specialized electricians, suppliers and armament experts. The total fleet for the Mexican Air Force is composed of 222 planes and 152 helicopters distributed all over the country. Santa Lucia is among the most important air bases, with 200 operations a day and 7,000 a year at the peak of its capacities.