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5th Aircraft Squadron Coat of Arms
5th Aircraft Squadron Coat of Arms
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5th Aircraft Squadron Coat of Arms
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SH-60F firing anti-missile chaff.
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Special Operation exercise with SOP ladder.
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SH-60 F conducting a fast rope exercise.

Welcome to the website of the 5th Aircraft Squadron. You are about to learn about a Squadron which perfectly embodies the expeditionary spirit of the Spanish Navy capable of adapting itself to the requirements of the environment.

The Squadron accumulates more than 110,000 flight hours which indicates the huge expertise added by its pilots and crews in the course of the different missions assigned. The first tasks of the Squadron were centered in anti-submarine missions with the SH-3D procured in 1966 and now are conducted with the SH-60F operated by the Navy’s Special Naval Warfare Force and the Marine Corps.

The 5th Aircraft Squadron started its transition to the new SH-60F in 2017, with the last SH-3Ds ‘Seaking’ being decommissioned in June 2022. The platform used by the Squadron has changed but the capabilities are the same. The weight/power ratio of the aircraft permit the Spanish Navy forces to operate in a wide variety of tactical missions.

The Squadron is in constant evolution adapting itself to the changing and demanding environment. It provides to the Operations Command a most capable Special Operations Air Task Unit – Rotary Wing (SOATU-RW).

WEIGHT: 21.883 pounds.

ROTOR DIAMETER: 16,35 meters.

HEIGHT:3,8 meters.

RANGE: 4 hours (posibility of HIFR (Hot In Flight Refueling).

CREW: 2 pilots, 1 crew (minimum).

WEAPONS: GAU-16 Machine gun / M-240D.

ALTITUDE: 13.000 feet.

SPEED: 180 Knots (max) and 140 (cruise)

The main mission of the 5th Aircraft Squadron is to provide the Naval Force with embarked aircraft to participate in operations and exercises, in addition to training tasks with other units when so requested. The Squadron can participate in any day/night all weather missions like the following:

  • Tactical transport of troops.
  • Special operations (fast rope, parachuting, helo casting, etc.)
  • Casualties evacuation (CASEVAC).
  • Medical evacuations (MEDEVAC).
  • Maritime surveillance.
  • Search and Rescue (SAR).

The 5th Squadron has a long tradition of SAR missions having saved more than 460 lives. This mission has now been undertaken by the State Maritime Safety and Rescue Society.

The 5th Aircraft Squadron is stationed in Rota Naval Base.

The SH-60F, built by Sikorsky Aircraft, is a 4 blade single-rotor helicopter with two turbines. It is a naval helicopter originally designed for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) but the units procured by Spain were modified and became tactical transport helicopters (TTH).

They have a barycentric hoist for logistic tasks which permit vertical replenishment tasks (VERTREP) and load and unload both, people and material (VOD – Vertical Onboard Delivery).

These aircraft have also MEDEVAC capability with a medicalization kit with stretches and medical equipment.

The demanding requirements of the missions imply that the helicopters must operate in all weather conditions and so they have night vision goggles. The aircraft mount GAU-16 12.7 mm machine guns and will soon be equipped with M-240D 7.6 machine guns.

There are currently 6 helicopters but two further units will be procured in the following years totaling 8 units.

The 5th Aircraft Squadron was set up in 1966 with the purpose of confronting the submarine threat. The original crew amounted to 96 people. The first SH-3D (‘MORSA 501’ in its Spanish denomination) arrived that same year on board the USS ‘Independence’. It was the first ASW helicopter of its class. From 1966 to 1981, a total of 18 units made up the Squadron.

The Spanish Navy subsequently decided to introduce Airborne Early Warning (AEW) equipment to protect the Combat Maritime Groups. The radar selected was the British ‘Thorn EMI Electronics’ bearing in mind the expertise gained by the Royal Navy during the Falklands War. Four systems were procured; three of them were mounted in helicopters and another one was used as a simulator. In 1987 the ‘MORSA 509’ was converted into the AEW version enhancing the early warning capability of the Navy thanks to the ‘Searchwater’ radar. The helicopters were in service from 1988 until the year 2016 when they were finally decommissioned.

With the changes brought about by the disappearance of the Warsaw Pact a new and ambitious upgrading plan started to adapt the helicopters to troop transport missions and became amphibious assault helos. By the year 2002 all the remaining units (7) were updated and turned from ASW to amphibious transport helicopters.

From then on, the 5th Squadron, thanks to its new capabilities, could deploy in many international missions. One of them was the assault to the North Korean ship ‘So San’ on December 9th 2002 which took place within the framework of Operation ‘Enduring Freedom’. Another milestone was the participation in the release of the French citizen Evelyne Colombo, kidnapped by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.

On April 12th 2013 the Squadron boasted the figure of 100,000 flight hours. With the purchase of the SH-60F, and as of 2018, the 5th Aircraft Squadron enhanced its capabilities as SOATU (Special Operations Air Task Unit).

The most relevant operations of the 5th Squadron have been:

  • Operation "Romeo Sierra" (2002) in Perejil Island.
  • Operation "Libertad Iraquí" (2003).
  • Operation "Romeo Mike" (2004) after the March 11 terrorist attacks.
  • Operation "Strog Escort" (2004) surveilling the Strait of Gibraltar.
  • Operation "Libre Hidalgo" (2006) in the UN mission in the Lebanon.
  • Operation "Althea" (2008-09) in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH).
  • Operation "Active Endeavour" (2009-15) fighting international terrorism.
  • Operation "Hispaniola" (2010) providing humanitarian aid to Haiti.
  • Operation "Atalanta" (2010-17) fighting piracy off Somalia.
  • SNMG-1 and SNMG-2 (2016-19-20-21-22)
  • Support to "Ispuhel" (2018), as part of the JCI deployment in Kuwait.
  • African deployment (2022)
  • Agrupación Naval “Dédalo” (2023)

And last, but not least, the names of those who gave their lives for Spain while participating in helicopter operations and now ‘fly’ well above all of us:


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