49 Years of Fuerzas Aeromóviles del Ejército de Tierra, FAMET


Rich Pittman reports from the Spanish FAMET Headquaters in Colmenar Viejo, Madrid



Flight lead "TALUD 01" above above the 

embalse de manzanares el real o de santillana during the FAMET Parade practice 22nd June 2015


 The Army Airmobile Force ( Spanish for Fuerzas Aeromóviles del Ejército de Tierra, FAMET)

is the Army aviation branch of the Spanish Army.  An Independent Army Aviation force was formed in 1965 as Aviación Ligera del Ejército de Tierra (Army Light Air Force) and renamed FAMET in 1973.


 Colmenar Viejo Airfield can be found situated on the North West outskirts of the city of Madrid.

A rather small Airfield but the most important in the Spanish Army hosting a variety of Helicopters and units. 

The base Colemenar Viejo was named after Coronel Maté. He was one of the first Helicopter Unit Commanders when the Army Aviation was founded.


Batallions at Colmenar Viejo (LECV) 


All new Spanish Army Aviators, progress through the FAMET training center (Centro de Enseñanza de Helicópteros de FAMET, CEFAMET) at Colmenar Viejo.
Flying the latest  EC-135T2 and T2+ versions CEFAMET accepts the pilot applicants as soon as they have completed the basic flying course on behalf of the Spanish Air Force.






Transport Helicopter Battalion V (Batallón de Helicópteros de Transporte V, BHELTRA V) operates the biggest and heaviest helicopter of Spanish Army Aviation the CH-47 Chinook. 19 examples of this two-rotor helicopters were delivered as CH-47C in the 1970S

 In 1973 the 1st Chinook arrived in Spain on a boat from the United States.

The 1990's saw the CH-47C being converted  and upgraded to the more capable D-version with improved engines and advanced avionics, of which 17 are still flying in the various capacities.


BHELTRA V can carry troops, carry armament and heavy equipment upto 10.5 tonnes of weight with Under-slung load. Also the Chinook can be used for insertion and extraction of special forces, combat search and rescue (CSAR) 

The Motto "Detras De Nadie" means Behind no one! 


 In 1991 Bheltra V took part in "operacion A-K" in Northern Iraq.

The mission to provide Humanitarian aid after Desert storm.

Bheltra V latest deployment ended recently.

They were part of several Battalions alternating Months on Months off  during "Operation Alpha Romeo in Afghanistan. 

The Chinook often fly under the call sign Talud , which when translated to English means slope. 







The Batallón de Transmisiones de las FAMET  BTRANS
  The Batallón de Transmisiones de las FAMET (BTRANS) operates the AS-332 Super Puma and AS-532 Cougar  helicopters.
In 1988 a new department dedicated to radio communications was created , the BTRANS, battalion  manages the equipment intended for self-protection of aircraft and electronic warfare. The department performs tasks og electronic surveillance and the AS332/AS532 can serve as a flying command post.

This Battalion can alsooperate in  the transportation and VIP role when needed. 

"Corzo1" at the EL Vellon airstrip sits waiting for departure to take part in the FAMET Parade practice 2015 
BHELEME II detachment

Also operating from Colmenar are the four EC.135 of the Emergency Helicopter Batalion II (Batallón de Helicópteros de Emergencia II, BHELEME II), which are permanently detached here from their home base Bétera near Valencia. This unit and the air force unit Grupo 43 in Torrejon constitute AGRUMEDA, the flying component of the multi-service Unidad Militar de Emergencias (UME). The UME is to provide relief support for any kind of natural disaster that may happen in the whole Country. At least one helicopter and one aircrew consisting of two pilots is available to operate within two hours after receiving an order at any given time.





Also based at Colmenar is the Helicopter Maintenance Center (Parque y Centro de Mantenimiento de Helicopteros, PCMHEL).
This unit is the  maintenance section for all the helicopters in the Spanish Army Aviation.
 PCMHEL comprises specific areas for each type of helicopter.

 Avionics, hydraulics or painting can all be conducted here.



Very few examples of the Huey UH1 remain in Famet service 



This BO105 comes from Bhela 1 at Ciudad Real/Almagro. 

Seen here visiting the FAMET celebrations in Colmenar Viejo 


 FAMET in 2015 


 As FAMET looks to the future, 2015 sees the latest helicopter of the Spanish Army the NH90 being brought into service.

 Initially in May 2005 the Council of Ministers authorised the acquisition of 45 NH90 TTHs and in December 2006, it was announced that a procurement contract for the Spanish Armed Forces had been signed. In June 2012 the contract was cut to 37. On 18 December 2014, Spain took delivery of the first NH90 TTH, which had been assembled at Airbus Helicopters Albacete facility but by this point, the order had been reduced to a total of 22 NH90s. The NH90 below was factory fresh from Alabacete and hasn't yet entered service.



The NH90 will eventually replace the Puma and Cougar in FAMET service 


FAMET Parade 2015 


Each Year in June  FAMET celebrate the founding of there existence. 

The Evening event includes Military band playing, Marching and speeches 

by the personnel of the FAMET.

Around 2100 local time  the occasion comes to a finale with a fly past of Helicopters

This Year the flypast included 4 EC135, 3 AS532 cougar , 4 CH47D chinook and 2 Tiger. 

2 of the cougar came from Seville El Copero and the Tiger from Ciudad Real/Almagro.



After leaving the El Vallon Air strip, part of the formation flies above the 

embalse de manzanares el real o de santillana.

The EC135 I was flying in,  was  coordinating the formation by acting as the whip high above. 


I would like to thank everyone on base at Colmenar Viejo for being so friendly and enthusiastic. 

A amazing insight into the operations at FAMET, a experience ill never forget.