Argentine Army Aviation

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Direccion de Aviación de Ejército
Argentine Army Aviation
Aviacion Ejercito Argentino Escudo.png
Active 1912 – present
Country  Argentina
Branch Argentine Army
Type Army aviation
Part of Army
Ministry of Defense
Engagements Operativo Independencia
Falklands (Malvinas)
Commanders
Commander-in-Chief President
Chief of Staff of the Army General
Chief of AvEjer Colonel
Insignia
Roundel Roundel of Argentina.svg

The Argentine Army Aviation (Spanish: Comando de Aviación Ejército Argentino, AvEjer) is the army aviation branch of the Argentine Army. Their members have the same rank insignia and titles as the rest of the Army.

Along with its primary role of supporting Army operations, the Army Aviation is highly involved in humanitarian aid missions, emergency relief, medical evacuations and forest firefighting.

Army aircraft with tactical camouflage have adopted high-visibility yellow markings Ejército (Spanish for "Army")[1][2] in order to encourage the national press to stop referring to them as belonging to the air force.[citation needed]

History[edit]

Military aviation in Argentina traces back to the Paraguayan War when on 8 July 1867, Staff Sargeant Roberto A. Chodasiewicz used an Observation balloon during the battle of Humaitá. Since then, the army was the main driving force behind national aeronautical development. The use of enthusiastic students who relied on the selfless support of civil institutions and airclubs, saw the creation of the Military Aviation School at El Palomar in 1912.

The establishment of the Army Aviation Service saw a great expansion of Argentine air power in the 1912–1945 period. The creation of the first aviation units and foundation of Fabrica Militar de Aviones lead to the creation of the Argentine Air Force in 1945, which the Army had given most of its aircraft and installations. The Army retained a number of Cessna and SNJ-4 aircraft for observation and training purposes. Army SNJ aircraft attacked government troops in Buenes Aires during the 1955 Revolución Libertadora, one of which was lost to an Argentine Air Force Gloster Meteor.

UH-1H Iroquois "Huey" helicopters, at Port Stanley Airport. These ones were transported to the islands by C-130H "Hercules" aircraft and had not had their rotors reattached yet

In 1956, Army Aviation was re-established within the Army and began a major expansion, incorporating new types of aircraft and opening new bases around the country. In 1965, using a Cessna U-17 they performed their first expedition to the South Pole.

During the 1970s the service consolidated itself as an important branch of the Army receiving aircraft such as the Aeritalia G.222 transport which caused no little differences with the Air Force. The expansion plans continued in the early 1980s with the incorporation of the Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter.

The dictatorship that took power in 1976 increased tensions with Chile which reached their highest point during the 1978 Operation Soberanía where the Army Aviation performed major deployments.

Falklands War[edit]

In 1982, the Military Junta invaded the Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas) triggering a ten-week long war against the United Kingdom. The Argentine Army Aviation deployed CH-47 Chinooks, Agusta A109, SA330 Pumas and UH-1Hs to the islands, where they performed 796 general support flights under harsh operating conditions. Their helicopters were also extensively used in Patagonia and the Army also took over police MBB Bo 105s during the conflict.[3] Six Army aviation members died in the war.[4]

Present Day[edit]

After the war, the Aerospatiale Super Puma was incorporated, mainly for Antarctica support duties operating from Navy's icebreaker ARA Almirante Irizar. In 1998, Argentina was granted Major Non-NATO ally status by United States President Bill Clinton[5] and the Army Aviation began an expansive program that included the reception of OV-1 Mohawks and surplus UH-1H from the US Army. The US also authorized the delivery of 12 AH-1F Cobra gunships[6][7] but the operation was halted by the Argentine Government. In the 1990s, the Aviation Army began its Unmanned aerial vehicle program, the Lipan series.picture In 2007, the Ministry of Defense evaluated the Chinese Changhe Z-11 (Argentine index AE-350)[8] and 40 are to be built.[9] Also in 2007, the Army unveiled the indigenous Cicaré CH-14 Aguilucho scout prototype video. A major update program is currently underway refitting the Hueys to the Huey II variant. On March 2010 it was announced the purchase of five Bell 206 for the Joint armed forces school [10]

Organisation[edit]

Bell UH-1H Huey during the Exhibition of the Argentine Army in May 2008
UAV Lipan Indigenous design

Units and bases[edit]

The main airbase is located at Campo de Mayo where, training and maintenance is done. The units based there are as follows:

  • Army Aviation Group 601
    • 601st Assault Helicopter Battalion
    • 601st Aviation Maintenance Battalion
    • 601st Intelligence Support Aviation Squadron
    • 602nd Attack/Scout Aviation Squadron
    • 603rd General Support Aviation Squadron
    • 604th Support Aviation Squadron

The service has also permanent forward location bases assigned to both division and brigade HQ levels.

  • 1st Army Division
    • 121st Army Aviation Section (Rosario)
    • 2nd Army Aviation Section (Parana)
    • 12th Army Aviation Section (Posadas)
  • 2nd Army Division

Pilot recruitment and training[edit]

Argentine Army Cessna T-41D Mescalero AE-054, 2009

Argentine Army gets its pilots from two main sources. One are the officers graduated from the Military Academy, who volunteer for the Army Aviator Course. This course lasts one year and takes place at either the Air Force Academy, in Cordoba (for fixed wing aircraft), or the Army Aviation School (for helicopters), in Campo de Mayo, outside Buenos Aires. Since 2009, these two schools are the only training center for pilots from the three Armed Services. The other source are civilian pilots who, after a ten month course at the Military Academy, join the Army Aviation as 2nd lieutenants. While Academy-graduated officers are called "Army Aviators" and those coming from civilian life are "Army Pilots", there's no specific technical differences between them. However, "Army Pilots" can only reach the rank of colonel. Also, "Army Aviators" retain their original branch (i.e. Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, Engineers, Signals or Ordnance) and can be posted to their branch's units in case of need. "Army Pilots", instead, can only serve in Army Aviation units or related positions, as they have no other capability.

Aircraft inventory[edit]

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[11] Notes
Helicopters
Aérospatiale SA 315 Lama  France Search and rescue Andes Mountains SA 315B 4
Changhe Z-11/AE-350  China/ Argentina Light utility / armed Z-11 0 Production under license canceled.
Agusta A109  Italy Scout/attack helicopter 5 Being withdrawn
Bell 205  United States Utility helicopter 205A1 4
UH-1 Iroquois  United States Utility helicopter UH-1H 28 Being upgraded to Huey II type
Eurocopter AS 332 Super Puma  France
 Germany
 Spain
Antarctic support helicopter AS 332B 3
Bell 206  United States joint armed forces trainer 206B3 5
Bell 206  United States Utility helicopter Ground attack 206B2 0 20 been ordered to Agusta-Bell
Fixed wing
Cessna T-41 Mescalero  United States Trainer T-41D 8
Alenia G.222  Italy Transport 3 Being withdrawn
Beechcraft Queen Air 65  United States Staff transport 65-B80 2
CASA C-212 Aviocar  Spain Transport C-212-200 2
Cessna 207  United States Utility T207 6
Cessna 550 Citation  United States VIP transport Citation I 2
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter  Canada Utility DHC-6-200
DHC-6-300
1
1
Fairchild SA-226 Merlin  United States Staff transport Merlin IIIA
Merlin IIIB
Merlin IVA
2
1
3
Grumman OV-1 Mohawk  United States Intelligence & Electronic Warfare OV-1D 7
Rockwell Sabreliner 75  United States VIP transport Sabreliner 75A 3

In addition to army aviation, a small air fleet is maintained by the border guard Gendarmeria Nacional Argentina.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ CASA 212 picture
  2. ^ UH-1H picture
  3. ^ LV-AND
  4. ^ Puma AE-505 shot down by SAM Sea Dart (crew Roberto Fiorito, Juan Buschiazo, Raul Dimotta) UH-1H AE-419 crash near Caleta Olivia, Santa Cruz (crew Marcos Fassio, Roberto Campos, Nestor Barros. Additional 7 infantry troops were killed in this accident)
  5. ^ ... represents our recognition of the importance of Argentina's leadership and cooperation in the field of international peacekeeping, notably during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, in Haiti, in its role in supervising the peace between Peru and Ecuador, and in nearly a dozen other international peacekeeping efforts ...
  6. ^ globalsecurity.org
  7. ^ El Ejército espera la llegada de ayuda militar norteamericana
  8. ^ Negocia la Argentina comprar helicópteros militares a China
  9. ^ http://beriat.org/2011/10/21/chinas-largest-export-orders-helicopters-the-argentine-purchase-of-11-straight-assembly-line/
  10. ^ mindef: AMPLIOS ANUNCIOS DE GARRE SOBRE EQUIPAMIENTO Y SERVICIOS PARA LAS FUERZAS ARMADAS
  11. ^ Aviation Week & Space Technology 2009, 26 JAN 2009 Web.25 Jul 2009. <http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/sourcebook/content.jsp?channelName=pro&story=xml/sourcebook_xml/2009/01/26/AW_01_26_2009_p0240-112924-05.xml&headline=World%20Military%20Aircraft%20Inventory%20-%20Argentina>.

Portions based on a translation from Spanish Wikipedia.

External links[edit]