Looking at the aerospace industry in México yesterday, we saw how México is growing its aerospace manufacturing prowess through strategic partnerships with manufacturers. We also noted how the Mexican military has embarked on the plan to reduce its military reliance on foreign equipment.

The annual budget for the Mexican defense budget is expected to continue growing in 2019. It is expected to be $11.6 billion.

Although much attention has being placed on México’s military hardware buying “binge” since 2015, like 21 Blackhawk helicopters, the national budget has been spending considerable amounts in bolstering its military manufacturing capabilities. Besides technology development, México is investing in human capital through its partnerships.

The self-reliance program has led to the development of the Mexican military assault rifle, the FX-05 Xiuhcóatl. The FX-05, entirely designed and manufactured in México is being deployed as the official weapon for Mexican military forces. According to the National Defense Plan 2013-2018, México expects to have about 130,000 FX-05 rifles deployed.

The FX-05 is notable in that it replaces the imported Heckler & Koch G3 with a smaller, lighter and is up to five times less expensive for Mexican taxpayers. The weapon uses the standard NATO 5.56 round, also manufactured in México, and fires at a faster rate than the G3.

The comprehensive Mexican military industrial program envisions making México’s military fully deployed with indigenous military technology. The program invests in developing the infrastructure and engineering expertise towards the goal of making all military equipment fully Mexican.

As of last year, the Mexican military manufacturers its own military uniforms for all services, tactical equipment like ballistic helmets and assault rifle munitions.

México manufactures military camouflage low-IR uniforms for its troops with special physical recognition codes to control falsified uniforms used by narco-soldiers to confuse the public over the military’s participation in drug operations. In addition, México manufacturers its own ballistic combat helmet with built in inflatable bladder providing soldiers better protection against brain and head trauma.

Eye protection and ballistic face masks are also being deployed to soldiers offering soldiers operating on drug cartel operations better protection while allowing them to conceal their faces to protect against retaliation. Ballistic shirts with IR and IFF identification tags, tactical body armor, fire retardant uniforms, load carrying structures and combat boots are also being made in Mexican companies.

Grenades, mortars and other heavy projectiles are now built fully in México. In addition to these, the Mexican military is developing and deploying military aerial and ground drones. The Mexican Navy is building its own class of littoral waters naval fleet.

Mexican armored vehicles are also being designed and deployed from Mexican factories. Since the 1980’s, México has been developing armored vehicles designed and manufactured in México. The DN-III has evolved over the years. In 2015, the IBN Industrias Militares and Plasan, an Israeli company, agreed to manufacture the Sand Cat in México. The Sand Cat is a light armored military vehicle.

In 2014, SEDENA revealed that México is on the verge of deploying domestically designed, engineered and manufactured remote controlled weapons. The weapons systems includes a .70 caliber remote-fired weapon as well as grenade launchers.

In April, the Mexican government signed a letter of intent with Argentina to jointly produce the IA-63 Pampa III, a light combat-capable jet trainer.

The goal for the Mexican military is to use only Mexican manufactured military equipment, from the uniforms to its military aircraft. The program has been moving towards that goal for the last two decades.

As global manufacturing continues to rely on Mexican labor and engineering, the goal will be closer to accomplishment.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...