The Australian Army Aviation Corps has celebrated its 50th birthday with a ceremonial parade, flypast and a variety of displays at the Army Aviation Training Centre in Oakey, Queensland.
Head of the Australian Army Aviation Corps Brigadier Scott Benbow said he was proud to join past and present personnel to mark this important milestone.
"Then and now, the Corps is committed to helping the Australian soldier fight, survive and win, and be ready to serve wherever needed," BRIG Benbow said.
From the formation of Army's modern aviation element in the late 1950s and early 1960s, aircrew were drawn from combat arms and services across the Army, supplemented by the Air Force in key positions.
Throughout the 1960s, Army personnel gradually replaced the Air Force members until all operational positions were filled by Army. In 1968, the Australian Army Aviation Corps was formed, providing a coherent career path for aircrew and, eventually, ground-support personnel.
"From a small Corps formed in 1968 flying light fixed-wing aircraft, the Australian Army Aviation Corps has grown to be an advanced, state-of-the-art force," BRIG Benbow said.
The Australian Army Aviation Corps operates a number of aircraft, including:
- S-70A-9 Black Hawk: Black Hawk is a utility helicopter ideally suited to its primary role of providing air mobility for troops and equipment in the battle zone. Additionally, Black Hawks can also carry out aerial reconnaissance, observation, direction of artillery fire, casualty evacuation and aerial fire support.
- Boeing CH-47F Chinook: Chinook is a versatile, twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter. Its primary roles include troop movement, artillery emplacement and battlefield resupply.
- ARH-Tiger: The Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter (ARH) is a two-seat, attack helicopter that performs a wide range of missions. It is fast and agile with the ability to detect and engage targets at long ranges, and can easily co-ordinate and control combined arms teams.
- MRH-90 Taipan: Taipan is an advanced tactical troop transport helicopter, capable of undertaking troop transport, search and rescue, special operations and counter-terrorism missions.
Within the Australian Army Aviation Corps the following is the accepted order of precedence, with each of the aviation regiments attached to the 16th Aviation Brigade:
- 1st Aviation Regiment;
- 5th Aviation Regiment; and
- 6th Aviation Regiment.
The commemorations also saw the final flight and retirement of the Army’s Bell 206B-1 Kiowa fleet after almost 47 years of service.
"Kiowa has been Army’s primary training helicopter since 1990, and every pilot, groundcrew member and maintainer who has served since that time has one thing in common, the Kiowa," BRIG Benbow said.
The Australian Army Aviation Corps provides aviation reconnaissance, firepower support, air mobility, battlefield support and surveillance, in a combined, joint or interagency environment.