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3rd Aircraft Squadron Coat of Arms
3rd Aircraft Squadron Coat of Arms
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3rd Aircraft Squadron Coat of Arms
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Haitian Presidential Palace – Operation ‘Hispaniola’
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Fast-roping from an AB-212
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Rocket firing from an AB-212
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Embarking a MC squad

Welcome to the 3rd Aircraft Squadron (AB-212). This Squadron is one of the Spanish Navy Air Flotilla squadrons with more operations abroad due to the fact that this multi-purpose helicopter can carry out a wide variety of tasks. The Squadron is currently undergoing the upgrading of all its aircraft.

3rd AIRCRAFT SQUADRON (Augusta Bell AB-212)
WEIGHT EMPTY: 7,000 lbs. MAX. TAKEOFF WEIGHT: 11,200 lbs.
LENGTH 57 feet.
HEIGHT 12 feet.
RANGE 3.5 hours.
CREW Up to 5 pax.
WEAPONS XM-200 rocket launcher: 38 rockets.
7.62 mm MG machinegun.
Ametralladora MG 7,62 mm.
CEILING 20,000 feet.
SPEED Max: 130 knots.

The mission of the 3rd Squadron is to train personnel and get the helicopters ready to carry out the scheduled exercises and operations. The Squadron is usually tasked with the following missions both, ashore or operating from the ships:

  • Tactical transport of troops.
  • Fire support: helicopter escorts, convoy escort, maritime interdiction support, amphibious operations support, asymmetric threat defence (LSF, FIAC), landing force support, armed reconnaissance, RW-CAS, etc.
  • Deployment and recovery of operational units/patrols/special forces (fast rope, SPIE rig, rappelling, helo casting, parachuting, etc.)
  • Logistic transport of personnel and materiel (external and internal cargo)
  • SAR.
  • VOD, Ship VERTREP (Vertical replenishment).
  • CASEVAC (Casualty evacuation).
  • ISR.

The 3rd Aircraft Squadron is part of the Spanish Navy Air Flotilla with base in Rota Naval Base (Cádiz).

The AB-212 is a two-bladed, twin-engine helicopter with main and tail rotors and sliding side doors. It can be fitted with auxiliary equipment depending on the mission: additional seats, stretchers, rocket-launchers, floats, etc

It has a barycentre winch for logistic tasks and a crane for SAR missions.

Other features:

  • Max. speed: 130 knots.
  • Fuel: 2,400 lb (with auxiliary tanks). 650 lb per hour.
  • Range: 3.5 hours.
  • XM200 E-1 rocket-launchers.
  • MG-3-1A-3S 7.62 mm machine guns.

The 3rd Aircraft Squadron was set up in 1965 with 4 anti-submarine helicopters Augusta Bell 204 (call sign BRAVO). Its first Commander was Lt-Cdr. José Maza. Those helicopters were operational until October 1978. In 1974 the Squadron was enhanced and upgraded with twin-engined Augusta Bell 212. The last two units arrived in 1980. The call sign changed to GATO.

The Squadron was then tasked with anti-submarine, surface warfare and electronic warfare missions. By October 1981 the helicopter fleet had clocked up more than 25,000 flight hours and had taken part in antiterrorist surveillance operations in Santander in 1982 and rescue missions during the floods in Eastern Spain the same year. The helos regularly collaborate with the Nature Conservation Institute and summer fire-fighting campaigns in Málaga and Rota.

In November 1987 the Squadron changed mission and became the Marine Corps transport element for amphibious warfare. In 1988 the command of the 3rd Squadron was exercised by a Marine Corps Major: Miguel Angel Montojo.

In July 1988 the squadron was the first Embarked Air Unit (UNAEMB) to land on the new aircraft-carrier “Príncipe de Asturias” and the last one to take off from the decommissioned carrier “Dédalo”.

Since then, the Squadron has taken part in many exercises and operations from Spanish Navy ships and naval bases. Total flight hours in 1992 were 50,000 and 86,000 by January 2011.

The current complement of the 3rd Squadron consists of 118 people:

  • 1 Squadron Commander (pilot)
  • 25 Officers (24 pilots and 1 maintenance officer)
  • 33 NCOs
  • 49 Leading seamen and ratings.

Las operaciones reales más relevantes en las que ha participado la Tercera Escuadrilla a lo largo de su historia son las siguientes:

  • Operation SHARP GUARD in the Adriatic Sea (1993-95).
  • Operation ALBA in support of the Albanian Government (1997).
  • Humanitarian aid operation ALFA CHARLIE in the wake of hurricane “Mitch” in Central America (1998-99).
  • Humanitarian aid operation ALFA ROMEO in Albania (1999).
  • Operation SIERRA KILO in Kosovo (1999).
  • Anti-terrorist operation ENDURING FREEDOM in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf (2002).
  • Operation ROMEO SIERRA during the Perejil Island conflict.
  • Operation IRAQI FREEDOM in Iraq (2003).
  • Operation MAR CARIBE in Haiti (2004).
  • Operation ROMEO MIKE after the March 11th terrorist attacks in Spain (2004).
  • Surveillance operation STROG ESCORT in the Strait of Gibraltar (2004).
  • Operation SOLIDARITY RESPONSE in Indonesia in the aftermath of the 2005 tsunami.
  • Humanitarian aid operation HISPANIOLA after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
  • One-year deployment in the Lebanon.

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