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The Parachute Sapper Squad, a key element of air-to-ground coordination in the Spanish Armed Forces-Noticias

The Parachute Sapper Squadron (EZAPAC) is an essential unit of the Spanish FAS (Armed Forces) as its main task is to form the mechanism of integration / projection of air power in support of surface maneuvers in a hostile zone.

The great advances in military aviation have determined that the air domain becomes a fundamental element in any conflict, and while it doesn’t guarantee that it will be 100% won, it chooses not to lose it. In the last conventional conflict Azerbaijan waged against Armenia, the most powerful Azerbaijani air force, and in particular its armed remote-controlled aircraft systems or RPAS (RPAS) properly coordinated with the ground forces, literally wiped out their armed forces. Opponent.

The essential element of the coordination between the Air Force and the ground, where the conflict is ultimately won, are the small special operations teams in which quality always comes before quantity, known internationally as SOALI (Special Operations Air Land Integration)

In the Spanish FAS, this mission is entrusted to the Air Force’s Special Operations Force, which is part of EZAPAC, which generates this capacity through the squadron’s action cells, the SOTU-ALI (Special Operations Task Unit-Air (Land Integration). The English name of the terms used by EZAPAC indicates full interoperability with NATO allies, as its capabilities can also be used for the benefit of a multinational air campaign or one of the United States air forces. Alliance.

Although EZAPAC can develop the wide range of missions assigned to the Special Operations Forces, or SOF (Special Operations Force), SOALI capacity differs from similar units in the ET (Army) and Navy. With this in mind, the current head of EZAPAC, Lieutenant Colonel Arbol, explains to us: I always insist that although we are a special unit, we are not just another. Our main benefit is the use of air media and the use of air power. When it came to the main tasks of SOF units, we were always at the forefront of special reconnaissance or SR (Special Reconnaissance) because we were always one step ahead in technology (first with cameras and transmission media, later with small UAS (Unmanned Aircraft) systems) organically , but also due to the specialization in SOALI’s own tasks

SOALI is the planning and coordination of air and ground units in order to achieve synergies for a goal. This capacity is projected in three large related blocks:

-The support and naming of fires for own / allied aircraft in support of land or air units in a variety of missions where those of air support or the CAS (Close Air Support) stand out by the constitution of computers with air attack controls or JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controller).

– Tactical combat control, which offers the possibility of locating, identifying and marking take-off, extraction and landing areas of paratroopers, be it for fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters, to carry out tactical combat control of air assets in these areas and to carry out meteorological observations and soundings.

– The third fundamental point of SOALI operations is Personnel Rescue Operations or PR (Personnell Recovery), mainly by flight crews for whom complex media devices, rescue teams or PJs (Pararescue Jumpers) are created, the end of recovery connection. In assisting an EZAPAC PJ team on the long Atlantic crossing flights conducted by the Air Force to participate in the Red Flag On-Deployment / Withdrawal exercise, they knew a pilot / crew member needed to jump right away with the help of the PCs .

In the area of ​​cooperation with European allies, the participation of EZAPAC together with Ala 48 employees and their helicopters in the APROC excellence courses (Air Centric Personnel Recovery Operatives Course), which are held every year in different European scenarios, is striking. . (Julio Maz Sanz).

Photo: EZAPAC JTAC teams have proven their effectiveness in Afghanistan’s long campaign. (Photo EZAPAC)

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