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Mexico: Domestic Defense Production
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Domestic Defense Production


Mexico has had a small defense industry since before the Revolution. In 1996 the defense industry consisted largely of the production of small arms, ammunition, propellants, and uniforms in government factories. As part of the modernization program launched in 1976, the armed forces redirected their efforts toward attaining a degree of self-sufficiency. The General Directorate of Military Industry drew up plans for production of large military systems, in cooperation with foreign arms manufacturers. The major expansion originally envisaged had to be curtailed, however, because of the economic difficulties of the early 1980s, and projects discussed with West German, Israeli, and Brazilian defense industries involving coproduction of armored vehicles were abandoned. The country's military industry has never reached the level of Brazil and Argentina, the other major Latin American producers of defense-related matériel.

Under a coproduction agreement with West Germany, the Mexican defense industry began mass-producing the standard infantry G-3 automatic rifle in the early 1980s. At the same time, the state-owned Diesel Nacional truck factory began manufacturing three-quarter-ton trucks for military use as well as the DN-3 and DN-5 armored car, derived from the United States Cadillac-Gage V-150 Commando. There were periodic reports of negotiations with foreign producers to cooperate in the manufacture of light and medium tanks, but questions of financing and the availability of special steel intervened.

Between 1972 and 1982, the government allocated considerable funds to the industrial sector for scientific and technical development related to military uses. In 1982 a telecommunications network using telex equipment was built to link military zones with the headquarters of the Secretariat of National Defense in Mexico City. The armed forces also began developing short-range, three- to twelve-kilometer, surface-to-surface missiles, but never reached the production stage.

Since the Revolution, Mexico has had an aircraft industry that produced a number of military models -- both original designs and licensed manufactures -- that formed part of the air force inventory until the 1960s. In an effort to revive the local aircraft industry, Mexico held discussions with both Brazil and Israel to produce trainer and light transport aircraft under license, but plans had to be shelved for financial reasons.

Mexico's major shipyards at Tampico on the Gulf of Mexico and Salina Cruz on the Pacific Ocean have been involved in the construction of patrol craft and auxiliary vessels. The largest program, involving the manufacture of Azteca-class patrol craft, was carried out under a licensed production agreement with a British firm.

Data as of June 1996

Last Updated: June 1996

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Mexico was first published in 1996. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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Section 197 of 213


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