English translation by Frank McMeiken
On Saturday 10 May 2008 at the Centro Addestrativo Aviazione dell’Esercito at Viterbo, and in the presence of the Capo di Stato Maggiore dell’Esercito General Fabrizio Castagnetti and the most senior local civil dignitaries, a ceremony was held to celebrate the 57th anniversary of the constitution of the Aviazione dell'Esercito (AVES). At the end of the ceremony, the general public were able to witness a demonstration of the force’s operational capacity provided by the aircraft of the AVES and surface units of the Esercito.
The origins of the Aviazione dell'Esercito date from an initial realisation of the requirement to equip surface forces with an aviation element capable of increasing the observation capacity of artillery units and improving the functions of command, control, and intelligence. To this end, the first elements of the speciality, the youngest in the Esercito, were created in the shape of a Reparto Aviazione Leggera (Light Aviation Unit), constituted in 1951 under the control of the Scuola di Artiglieria at Bracciano.
In the 57 years that have passed since then, and despite continuing to maintain, in accordance with its origins, close interdependence with surface units, the speciality has been characterised by constant technological, doctrinal, and structural evolution.
From a technological point of view, the acquisition of aircraft with increasing performance has delivered a strengthening of operational capacity and employment flexibility. In synthesis, the AVES assets today constitute an essential instrument available to the armed service, thanks to their intrinsic characteristics of rapidity, agility, and projection. Participation in almost all the missions which have involved Italian forces serving abroad constitute a significant testimony the validity of this statement. At this moment, AVES flying units are operating in Kosovo, in Lebanon and in Afghanistan.
Besides those activities that are fundamentally operational in character, the Aviazione dell'Esercito has also distinguished itself in the conduct of the other institutional roles entrusted to the Army, with particular emphasis on military support to the civilian population.
To respond to the rapid evolution in technology and ensure that it can meet its geo-strategic operational goals, the service is presently revitalising its aircraft fleets through hthe acquisition of both new aircraft and systems. In the light of these plans, the first six examples of the NH 90 tactical transport helicopter have been delivered. This is a new generation aircraft, characterised by advanced technological solutions, the design of which involving several European nations.
Under the doctrinal aspect, the requirement to exploit the third dimension not only for transport, but also for manoeuvring, has resulted in the concept of air-mobile capacity, conceived as a result of the integration of the flying assets of the Aviazione dell’Esercito and surface elements which are grouped together under a unified command structure. The conduct of air-mobile operations require, moreover, the adoption of specific techniques, based on automation, synchronisation, and precision. In this context, it is not by accident that the infantry of the 66° rgt."Trieste", which forms a art of the Brigata Aeromobile "Friuli", have adopted the blue beret of the aviators of the Esercito.
The technological and doctrinal evolutions, finally, have not over-ridden the requirement to maintain a structure that is calibrated as a function of the renewed operational requirements of the Italian Army.
In its present form, the Aviazione dell’Esercito comprises:
- A component whose function is prevalently operational, constituted by a Brigata Aeromobile and the units which it parents;
- A component dedicated to the support of land forces, comprising three
Reggimenti Elicotteri and an autonomous Gruppo operating transport and liaison aircraft, parented by the Brigata AVES;
- A training component, tasked with producing pilots and engineers, and constituted by the Centro Addestrativo AVES;
- A maintenance component comprising four Reggimenti di sostegno placed under the control of the Reparto Materiali AVES, part of the Ispettorato Logistico dell'Esercito.
The Aviazione dell’Esercito, which continually plays a significant technical and operational consultative role in its re-equipment projects, is preparing to meet the challenges of the future, in order to be ready to best perform its duties in support of the nation in both and inter-service and international context.
Images and text by Giovanni Mattioli
Product by Giorgio Ciarini