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Exercise Report : Italian Army Aviation CASEVAC Training

Italian Army Aviation CASEVAC Training

The Italian Army Aviation deployed the UH-90 to the base Casarsa della Delizia and staged a CASEVAC training mission at the Cellina-Meduna range flown by the UH-90 with AH-129 escort. Report and photos by Renzo Del Bianco and Dino Uliana.

The 25° Gr. Sq. “CIGNO” of the 7° Rgt. AVES “VEGA” deployed with two UH-90A helicopters to “Francesco Baracca” airport in Casarsa della Delizia
25° Gr. Sq. “CIGNO” UH-90A serial 230 on the ramp of 5° Rgt. AVES “RIGEL” at Casarsa della Delizia
25° Gr. Sq. “CIGNO” crew preparing for the day's flight
25° Gr. Sq. “CIGNO” UH-90A number 233 and the flight crew prior to the mission
The UH-90A tactical transport helicopters of the AVES are armed with two M134 six-barrel Gatling guns in the doorways, seen here is also the rigid stretcher for the CASEVAC
49° Gr. Sq. “CAPRICORNO” AH-129C flight and ground crews doing the pre-flight checks
The AH-129C Mangusta warms up for its escort duty armed with the TM197B Light Turreted Gun System with 20mm M197 three-barreled Gatling gun and HeliTOW targeting system and launchers
View of the AH-129C crew helmets with the TM197B Light Turreted Gun System monocle to aim the gun
Besides 49° Gr. Sq. “CAPRICORNO” of  5° Rgt. AVES “RIGEL” the 27° Gr. Sq. “MERCURIO” operates the Agusta-Bell UH-205A
A look into the analogue cockpit of the UH-205A that served as the photo-ship
Photo of the UH-90A and AH-129C ready for take-off as we lift off in our UH-205A
The UH-90A 233 departs from “Francesco Baracca” airport for the mission

In the final week of May 2016, Aviazione dell'Esercito (AVES - Italian Army Aviation) training activities at the “Francesco Baracca” airport in Casarsa della Delizia near Pordenone, home of the 5° Reggimento AVES “RIGEL”, involved both AH-129C of the resident 49° Gruppo Squadroni “CAPRICORNO” and deployed UH-90A tactical transport helicopters of the 25° Gr. Sq. “CIGNO” of 7° Rgt. AVES “VEGA” from Rimini-Miramare.

On Tuesday 31st of May, we had the opportunity to attend, flying along on board a 27° Gr. Sq. “MERCURIO” UH-205A (AB 205), a CASEVAC training mission. It foresaw a resupply flight to a FOB (Forward Operating Base) by an UH-90A tactical transport helicopter (NH90 TTH) escorted by an AH-129C armed scout and escort helicopter (A129CBT Mangusta EES), with an unscheduled CASEVAC call from a VM90 vehicle on a ground operation, situated in a different location (Cellina-Meduna range) than the FOB destination.

After the pre-flight briefing with all participants (flying and on the ground) involved, the flying activities began with the take-off of our helicopter (UH-205A) to permit us to capture the departure phase of the helicopters. During the initial flight phase heading to the FOB, the call for CASEVAC soon came in and subsequently the flight route was updated. As soon as the helicopters reached the evacuation zone and verified the location upon the smoke signal by the ground troops, the AH-129C constantly flew over the surrounding areas near the landing zone to ensure there were no threats before the UH-90A came in for landing. After the injured soldier on a stretcher was carried on board the helicopter, the UH-90A took off and headed towards the nearest medical centre (in this case a return to base).

This kind of exercise permits all military assets involved to maintain adequate skills on performing CASEVAC when deployed to a theater of operations, as well as to validate and improve procedures to cope with evolving threats as often occurs on CASEVAC missions.

It’s important to note the difference between the MEDEVAC and CASEVAC aviation mission. MEDEVAC refers to a medical evacuation provided by aircraft in air ambulance configuration with medical personnel onboard to tend to the wounded, injured, or ill person extracted from the combat zone or another location. CASEVAC refers to evacuation provided by a helicopter not specifically configured as air ambulance and without dedicated medical personnel onboard, but called upon to transport the casualty to a medical centre. Either mission can be with or without armed escort.

I would like to thank the Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito for the authorisition, 5° Rgt. AVES “RIGEL” Commander Col. Pilota Stefano Angioni, Public Relation Chief Lt. Col. Pilota Alessandro Metalli, and 1° M.llo Alessandro Zanot for the kind support.

Renzo Del Bianco / A.A.F.G.

AH-129C taking off from the field at “Francesco Baracca” airport
UH-90A flying beneath the photographer
UH-90A slowing down to fly alongside the slower UH-205A photo-ship
AH-129C passing by to escort the formation
The helicopters were re-routed to the CASEVAC call
AH-129C scouting the CASEVAC area
The UH-90A arriving at the scene at low-level
The VM90 vehicles and ground troops popping smoke to confirm their location to the helicopters
UH-90A descending to the landing zone
UH-90A landing
UH-90A crew member on his way to the casualty
The casualty being carried to the UH-90A
The other doorgunner in the UH-90A secures the other side of the LZ
The ground seek cover behind their VM 90 vehicle as threat level rises
AH-129C provides cover and can counter any threats while the UH-90A is on the ground
AH-129C taking care of any incoming threats attracted by helicopter landing
UH-90A back in the air with the doorgunners back on their station
AH-129C UH-90A formation returning to base
AH-129C Mangusta
Close formation of the AH-129C and UH-90A
UH-90A on landing approach
UH-90A descending to land
UH-90A landing back at “Francesco Baracca” airport in Casarsa della Delizia
UH-205A on the flightline photographed from the air
UH-90A 230 on the flightline photographed from the air
UH-90A touching down in between the other UH-90A and the resident UH-205
UH-90A parked and shutting down for the day
AH-129C touch-and-go at the landing field
AH-129C in the air, now with the sun coming out from behind the clouds
AH-129C close-up as it flies in formation with the camera-ship
AH-129C breaking off from the camera-ship
AH-129C seen coming in to land, in the foreground the UH-205 of 27° Gr. Sq. “MERCURIO”
A big thanks to our UH-205A flight crew of 27° Gr. Sq. “MERCURIO” for the photo flight

Report by Renzo Del Bianco. Photos by Renzo Del Bianco and Dino Uliana

First Published: 29 July 2016
Last Modified: 1 August 2016