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FAMET de Espana; Torrejon, October 9 - 12, 2014

The Spanish Air Force, part 5; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The FAMET is the flying branch of the Spanish Army and is only equipped with transport and attack helicopters. The helicopters are spread over six airfields in Spain and a permanent detachment in Melilla in northern Morocco. In the next coming years the Spanish helicopter fleet will be drastically modernized.

The airmobile unit of the Spanish Army is known as the FAMET (Fuerzas Aeromoviles del Ejercito de Tierra). This section of the Army was established in 1965 as the Ligera Aviacion del Ejercito (Army Group Light Aircraft). The organization was identified as the FAMET from 1973. In the past, the organization flew light aircraft to perform reconnaissance tasks mainly for the infantry and artillery. The headquarters of the FAMET is based at Madrid-Colmenar Viejo to the north of the city of Madrid. The FAMET is unlike the units of the Air Force in Spain organized in an army structure. The FAMET has therefore no Gruppo’s and Ala's like the Air Force, but the organization is composed of battalions. The helicopters are used to support the army battalions. This means that the attack helicopters will provide protection to the troops on the ground and that they will function as escort helicopters for the transport helicopters. The transport and utility helicopters are mainly used for transporting soldiers and for logistical tasks. The helicopters can also be used in the role of medical evacuation. The usage of helicopters in the FAMET is usually tactical. This means the helicopters perform specific tasks which increases the efficiency of the troops on the ground. In recent years, Spain has begun to renew the helicopter fleet. The NH90 TTH and the EC665 Tigre were purchased and are currently in production for the FAMET. The outdated types such as the Bo-105 Bölkow, the Aerospatiale AS332 Super Puma and the UH-1H Huey will be replaced by these types.

The first FAMET helicopter battalion is BHELA I (Batalion the Helicopteros the Ataque I, Attack Helicopter Battalion I). This battalion is stationed at Almagro and is equipped with the MBB Bo-105ATH Bölkow and the Eurocopter EC665 Tigre HAD. The primary task of this unit is the offensive task. The helicopters of this unit are all attack helicopters. The Tigre will eventually replace the Bölkow within the Spanish Army. The Bölkows are over 40 years old and will be replaced at this time by the Tigre. Spain has

ordered 24 Tigres of which six have already been commissioned. The second Spanish army battalion is BHELEME II (Batalion the Helicopteros the Emergencias II, Rescue Helicopter Battalion II). This battalion flies the Aerospatiale AS332B1 Super Puma, the Aerospatiale AS532AL Cougar and the Eurocopter EC135P2+. The EC135s of this unit fly from Madrid-Colmenar Viejo. The other helicopters fly along with the air force helicopters of the 43 Gruppo at the Unidad Militar de Emergencias (Military Emergency Service). This joint unit has the task of forest fire fighting. The helicopters of this unit can be equipped with water bags which are carried as a sling load. The third battalion is BHELMA III (Batalion the Helicopteros the Maniobra III, Mobility Helicopter Battalion III) which is stationed at Logrono-Agoncillo. This unit is equipped with the Bell UH-1H Huey and the Aerospatiale AS532UL Cougar. The helicopters of this unit fly tactical missions with ground troops of the Army. In the future, this unit will receive the NH90 TTH for these kinds of missions. The new NH90 will replace both the Huey and the Cougar at BHELMA III.

The battalion BHELMA IV (Batalion the Helicopteros the Maniobra, Helicopter Battalion Mobility IV) is stationed at Sevilla El Copero. The helicopters of this battalion have the same tasks as those of BHELMA III. BEHLMA IV is equipped with the Aerospatiale AS332B1 Super Puma and Aerospatiale AS532UL Cougar. Besides the troop transport of normal soldiers, the helicopters are also used for actions of the Special Forces from Spain. The helicopters of this unit will be replaced by the NH90 in future. The fifth battalion of the Army is equipped with the American Boeing CH-47D Chinook. This FAMET battalion is called BHELTRA V (Batalion the Helicopteros de Transporte V, Transport Helicopter Battalion V). The Chinook is the heaviest transport helicopter of the FAMET and has been in the service of the Army since 1972. Through the years the helicopters are updated from CH-47C to CH-47D. There are currently 17 Chinooks in use and all these helicopters are assigned to this battalion at Madrid-Colmenar Viejo. The Chinooks are used for troop transport and for transporting heavy sling loads under the fuselage of the helicopter. The sixth battalion is BHELMA VI (Batalion the Helicopteros the Maniobra VI, Helicopter Mobility Battalion VI) and is one of the smallest FAMET battalions in Spain, because the unit has only a few helicopters. This battalion is based on the island of Tenerife at the base of Los Rodeos Tenerife. This battalion flies the Augusta-Bell AB-212 and the Bell UH-1H Huey.

The BTRANS (Batallon de Transmisiones, Communication Battalion) is a unit responsi- ble for the connections between the various units. The unit ensures that important people and messengers are flown in to various units of the FAMET. This FAMET battalion is stationed at Madrid-Colmenar Viejo. The unit flies the Bell UH-1H Huey. There are many helicopters of this unit in storage at this moment. The unit has two Aerospatiale AS332B1 Super Puma helicopters in use which are designed for VIP transport. The training of FAMET pilots is provided by the CEFAMET (Centro de Ensenanza de las FAMET, FAMET Training Centre). The CEFAMET is based at Madrid-Colmenar Viejo and flies the Eurocopter EC135T1 and EC135T2. The pilots will receive at this unit their basic pilot training and they are prepared to fly on the heavier helicopter types. The training program consists primarily of learning to control the helicopter. At a later stage also the more difficult maneuvers and tactical flights are learned. When the pilots have completed the full training, they will be assigned to the operational units where they learn to fly on the heavy transport and combat helicopters. The last FAMET battalion is PCMHEL (Pargue y Centro de Mantenimiento the Helicopteros, Centre for Helicopter Maintenance). This unit has no operational helicopters in use. The main task of this unit is to maintain all FAMET helicopters.

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