Brazilian Army Aviation in Western AmazoniaBrazilian Army Aviation in Western Amazonia

Brasília (DF) – A pioneer in the use of air assets in South America, the Brazilian Army has overcome significant challenges in optimizing the use of its aircraft, especially in the north of the country.

The Amazon region is particularly challenging for aviation. It is often necessary to pre-position considerable amounts of fuel, especially for departures from Manaus, as there are only four locations with airfield support for direct refueling. For this reason, meticulous planning is required, taking into account weather conditions, the weight of the aircraft and the need for fuel and other inputs. Mid-route decision points are also necessary to ensure mission continuity.

The challenge of flying over the Amazon is also related to the dense jungle, with tall trees and a shortage of regular and emergency landing areas. It is often necessary to open clearings in the jungle to access the objectives, or to do so by parachute launch or special abseiling infiltration techniques.

The weather conditions in the Amazon region also undergo constant variations due to the accumulation of heat and humidity, resulting in the formation of fogs, known as ‘Aru’, especially in the morning. The phenomenon of evapotranspiration leads to the formation of cumulus and the degradation of flying conditions throughout the day, requiring knowledge and expertise from the team of pilots and mechanics. Unlike other regions of Brazil, where it is possible to safely anticipate the occurrence of climatic phenomena, in the Amazon it is necessary to constantly monitor the weather, with caution, due to the scarce meteorological information along the route and at the landing sites. 

In these conditions, the ability to land aircraft in confined places, such as clearings or soccer fields in remote communities, is crucial for the transportation of personnel and supplies. As many airstrips do not have the capacity to receive large cargo planes, the use of helicopters offers greater flexibility, despite the higher cost.

Border defense and humanitarian support

For the pilots who fly over the Amazon carrying out Homeland Defense missions, the Special Border Platoons offer permanent support, with a focus on transport forecasting, troop preparation and access to remote locations in the interior of the forest and along the border. Connected by air transport, these platoons work not only to defend the territory, but also to support logistical and humanitarian missions, from providing supplies to isolated communities to helping transport ballot boxes for elections.

Currently, we can see this effort in the logistical support provided in the Yanomami Indigenous Land, with the transportation of sick people and the delivery of supplies. To deal with the humanitarian crisis in the region, the Armed Forces launched Operation Catrimani, with a series of coordinated actions to deliver 15,000 food baskets to indigenous communities.

*** Translated by DEFCONPress FYI Team ***

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