BHELTRA V: Spain's Chinooks

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Batallón de Helicópteros de Transporte V (BHELTRA V) is the biggest aircraft battalion of FAMET, currently operating 17 CH-47D Chinooks based at Coronel Mate airbase in Colmenar Viejo.

BHELTRA V’s story began back on 10th July 1965 when the Aviacion Ligera del Ejercito de Tierra (Light Aviation Army) was formed for the Spanish Army. In 1973 the first of Spain’s new CH-47C Chinooks arrived into the country, which resulted in the formation of a new helicopter battalion, BHELTRA V.

1973 also marked the year that Aviacion Ligera del Ejercito de Tierra was renamed Fuerzas Aeromóviles del Ejército de Tierra (FAMET).



In 1973, CH-47C N6692D destined to become Z17.-1/ET-401 for BHELTRA V was written off just after it’s first flight and before delivery which was eventually replaced by ET-407. On 15th July 1995 HT.17-13/ET-413 was also written off, bringing the total Chinook fleet now to 17. In the 1990’s FAMET’s CH-47C Chinooks were upgraded to CH-47D standard.
The payload limit for the CH-47D is 10 tonnes, whether internal or attached to one of the three underslung load points under the aircraft or up to 29 troops with kit.

Living up to the squadron’s Motto "Detras De Nadie" meaning ‘Behind no one’, BHELTRA V provide the primary battlefield helicopter role for Spain’s Army, whether this is moving troops, replenishing supplies to Forward Operating Bases, Underslung loads, Special Forces inserts/extractions and combat search and rescue. Quite often squadrons around the world focus on just one mission, however BHELTA V makes good use of Spains’ Snowy mountains in the winter, dusty sand in the summer and the rugged coastline and reservoirs for water operations which enable the 33 pilots and 70 crewmen of the squadron to keep up with currency training on the various roles.

The squadron consists of around 223 personnel which in addition to the 33 pilots, consist of around 70 crewmen and 50 ground engineers which leaves 70 in the admin role – providing BHELTRA V with weather, flight planning, food and accommodation and training. During the conflict in Afghanistan, a Spanish detachment known as ASPUHEL (Afghan-Spanish Helicopter Unit) which conducted 8000 hours of operations, 1800 of which being BHELTRA V's Chinooks.