FAB celebrates Rotorcraft Aviation DayFAB celebrates Rotorcraft Aviation Day

Air Force Agency – Lieutenant Eniele Santos and Captain Alcoforado

H-50 Esquilo, H-60 Black Hawk, H-36 Caracal, VH-35 and VH-36 Caracal. These are the aircraft that make up the Rotary Wing fleet of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). The Rotorcraft Aviation Day is celebrated on February 3, 1964, as the first combat rescue by FAB took place in 1964, when military personnel carried out a peacekeeping mission for the United Nations (UN) in the Republic of Congo: On board the H-19 Helicopter the then Lieutenant Aviators Ércio Braga and Milton Naranjo, as well as Sergeants João Martins Capela Junior and Wilibaldo Moreira Santos rescued crew members and missionaries about to be captured by heavily armed rebels.

Since then, Rotary Wing Aviation has been present in the history of FAB, helping in the mission to defend, control and integrate, joining efforts to build the Air Force of the future. To this end, in 2020 the crews of the First Squadron of the Eighth Aviation Group (1º/8th GAV) – Falcon Squadron and the Third Squadron of the Eighth Aviation Group (3º/8th GAV) – Puma Squadron became operational in in-flight refueling of helicopters and Brazil thus became the first country in South America with this capability.

Currently, FAB has eight Rotor Wing Squadrons all over Brazil:

Falcon Squadron

Located at Natal Air Base (BANT), the 1/8th GAV operates in order to fulfill missions of Search and Rescue, CSAR, Logistical Airlift and Aeromedical Evacuation. Thus, in 2022, the Squadron was responsible for more than 50% of the aeromedical evacuations on ships in the Brazilian coast. The 1st/8th GAV acted, in particular, in missions in support of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), carrying out the transportation of ballot boxes in elections, as well as the transport of authorities.

“In recent years we have participated in the Verde Brasil operations and supported the Ministry of Health by transporting doctors and vaccines to the Yanomami tribes. Finally, every year the squadron takes part in Operation TÁPIO and last year it trained its first pilots and crew members with aerial refueling capabilities”, explains the squadron commander, Lieutenant Colonel Marcelo de Almeida Candido Da Silva.

Poti Squadron

With the mission of ensuring Brazilian sovereignty, the 2/8th GAV is located in Porto Velho (RO) and operates along the vast land border, equipped with an aircraft designed for armed use, with high survivability in combat, great lethality and precision, as well as distinctive stealth when operating night vision goggles (OVN – light intensification equipment). “Currently, the Air Unit is in a process of transition to the H-60 Black Hawk aircraft, as well as adaptation of its mission, being delegated to perform Air Force Search and Rescue, Combat Search and Rescue and Escort actions”, emphasizes the Poti Squadron Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Leonardo Bezerra Salim.

Puma Squadron

The 3/8th GAV – Puma Squadron, located in Santa Cruz (RJ), operates the H-36 Caracal aircraft and, for the Squadron, the Rotorcraft Aviation Day is a good opportunity to reflect on the role of rotary wing aviation and its importance to our society. “FAB made the right decision when investing in the new H-36 Caracal helicopters, because recent conflicts have shown the fundamental role of this type of air vector, due to its stealth capability against the most modern detection systems. Furthermore, the Caracal allowed Brazil to be the first country in Latin America to have the capability of in-flight refueling with helicopters, enabling operations in more remote locations,” highlights the then Commander of the Third Squadron of the Eighth Aviation Group, Lieutenant Colonel Bruno Cesar Guimarães de Oliveira.

Another very important factor is that the resources invested in the aircraft operated by the Puma Squadron are often used to benefit civil society, even in peacetime. As an example, the 3/8th GAV keeps, all year long, a helicopter on alert for search and rescue of aircraft and boats in danger and, besides that, it provides support to victims of calamities in the Green Coast and Mountainous Region of Rio de Janeiro. Thus, “To be faithful in peace or in war is what our nation expects from us”, is the motto of the Squadron.

Pantera Squadron

The Pantera Squadron, based in Santa Maria (RS), carries out a wide range of missions. According to the Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Rodrigo Alonso Fortes, due to the versatility of the aircraft used, H-60 Black Hawk, the 5th/8th GAV helps the country in the most diverse areas of operation, from transporting vaccines to the most inhospitable places in the Amazon to ensuring safe voting, proposed in the delivery of ballot boxes for citizens living in remote locations of Brazil. “In 2022, we accomplished SAR Alert missions, such as the search mission for FAB 1925, missions to support public safety, to support and secure the transfer of the GRIPEN aircraft, and we also accomplished training missions, such as the maneuvers proposed by COMPREP, in order to be prepared for this whole range of engagements,” says the Commander who also highlighted the more than 1,200 hours and more than 20 real missions. “Regardless of whatever scenario our Brazil finds itself in, there is something that will never change and it is put in our anthem: ‘You can count on it, O Brazil, the 5th/8th is ready!”, he concluded.

Harpy Squadron

Headquartered at Manaus Air Base (BAMN), the Air Unit employs the H-60L Black Hawk aircraft in Search and Rescue, Combat Search and Rescue, and Aeromedical Evacuation, among others.

To be able to carry out such air force actions requires preparation and dedication, and for this reason technical and operational exercises are carried out, such as: Lateral Shooting Maneuver, CSAR, TÁPIO, EXTEC NOE, and Sea Launch. According to the Squadron Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Michelson Abrahão de Assis, 39 operational missions were carried out in 2022, of which the missions Gota, Elections, Guardians of the Biome, and Ostium stand out.

Operation Gota 2022 ensured vaccination coverage of populations located in areas of difficult access. The Harpy Squadron transported supplies and health professionals from SESAI and state health departments. Almost 300 communities and more than 10 thousand Brazilians were assisted. During the Guardians of the Biome Operation, between fire outbreaks and deforestation areas, the participation of the 7th/8th GAV made possible intelligence actions, reconnaissance and several notifications of illegal activities. The Squadron also supported the states of Amazonas, Acre and Roraima, transporting security and defense troops, mobilizing 26 electoral sections, distributed among 10 municipalities.

The Squadron also performs Aeromedical Evacuation and Search and Rescue actions. “In 2022, 6 evacuations of indigenous people were performed due to ophidic accidents or medical conditions that inflicted imminent risk of death. Six lives saved! In addition, there was the rescue of PT-MES: Cessna Caravan had engine failure and made a forced landing 150km from Santarem. Five lives were saved!”, said Lieutenant Colonel Michelson.

Pelican Squadron

The Second Squadron of the Tenth Aviation Group (2º/10º GAV), based at Campo Grande Air Base (BACG), employs SC-105 Amazonas and H-60 Black Hawk aircraft. The Air Unit’s mission is to maintain the necessary and sufficient technical-professional preparation to carry out Search and Rescue, In-flight Rescue, and Aeromedical Evacuation actions, among others.

With outstanding performance all over the national territory and abroad, the Pelican Squadron is the only Military Organization of the Armed Forces whose main function is to safeguard human life. According to the Squadron Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Emanuel Patricio Beserra Garioli, readiness is the permanent state of alert that the Squadron’s teams maintain daily throughout these 65 years of operation, thus ensuring rescue reliability at any time and anywhere the Pelicans are called. “So that others may live… SEARCH!”, he emphasized.

Hawkeye Squadron

The 1st/11th Aviation Group, based at BANT, is the FAB Air Unit responsible for training, with the H-50 Esquilo aircraft, as well as operational specialization in rotary wings of the pilots coming from the Air Force Academy (AFA), thus being considered the cradle of Rotor Wing Aviation – the Nest of the Hawks.

3rd Squadron of the GTE

The Third Squadron of the Special Transport Group (GTE-3), located in Brasilia (DF), has the primary mission of transporting the President of the Republic. According to the GTE-3 Commander, Major Aviator Paulo Vitor Teixeira Germano de Aguiar, we currently have the EC-135 aircraft designated VH-35 with capacity for up to 4 passengers – which is more used in missions for landing on high helipads. And the EC-725, designated VH-36, with capacity for up to 10 passengers. Both reinforce the versatility and agility of the Brazilian Air Force in the employment of its mission.

FAB launches Rotorcraft Aviation Day video

59 years ago, February 3rd became Rotorcraft Aviation Day due to an impressive feat of courage and skill in southern Congo, where the crew of an H-19 helicopter, working for the UN, carried out the first real combat rescue mission in the history of the Brazilian Air Force.

Because of their known characteristics – versatility and flexibility – these aircraft can take off and land in places of difficult access, since they need little space to perform the action. The vectors, due to their ability to maintain hovering flight, are ideal for rescue, infiltration, and exfiltration actions, among others.

*** Translated by the DEFCONPress FYI Team ***

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