SATER exercise 01/2014 at Belluno Airport.

On ninth of April 2014 at the small airport of Belluno has been held the first search and rescue exercise of the year under the Aeronautica Militare commands.

The city of Belluno it's between the Dolomities on the North East part of Italy. As many other cities in the italian Alps at Belluno in the past was stationed the "Cadore" Alpini Brigade. Part of this unit was a detachement of the Reparto Aviazione Leggera at the close local airport "Arturo Dall'oro" with two Sections since 1966, later also an helicopter unit was associated wit the RAL. Ten years later the RAL change to the 44th "Fenice" ERI Group Squadrons under direct order of the 4th ALE Altair. In 1996 Belluno was choosed to receive the new A-129 "Mangusta" changing to 48th "Pavone" EA Group Squadrons under the 7th "Vega" Regiment. Sadly just two years later under a reorganization of the AvEs the Mangustas and the Huey were moved to Rimini Airbase, leaving after 30 years an empty airfield behind. Luckily the Air Service of the Corpo Forestale Dello Stato decided that Belluno fitted the parameters to became one of his bases. Since that at least wintertime during an AB-412 and a NH-500 are based here for firefighting and alpine operations. In the past Belluno was used to reassembly the freshly acquired Erickson S-64 thanks to the huge Hangar left from the Italian Army.


HH-139A mm81796

The SATER is an Aeronautica Militare exercise repeated more then once per year, on different locations. The last time that it was held in the Belluno area was more than 5 years ago. This kind of exercise is perfomed to train and improve the ability to pianificate, fly, manage and operate day and night search and rescue operation on a specific area toghether with all the rescue personel that could be involve. The AMI runs this kind of exercis as it's still in charge for the search and rescue service all over the Italian territory in all wheather conditions. It was most probably the first time that the Aeronautica Militare deployed one of his new HH-139 at Belluno. The HH-139 is a dedicated SAR version of the succesfoul commercial Agusta Westland AW139, and it's been acquired to replace the AB-212 and the old HH-3F. In the last couple of year this new helicopeter as been delivered to Cervia AB, home of the 15th Wing. As already said this helicopter has been acquired for SAR, medical emergency, natural disaster relief, VIP transportation and utility duties and it's capable to operate both day and night thanks to the NVG. It's equipped with two Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67C FADEC Turboshafts, each with 1142KW, a max 6800 Kg take off weight, with a top speed just over 300Km/h , a 3 hour and half autonomy and 14 passengers. The Italian Air Force ordered 10 HH-139 and 2 VH-139. The first flight of this Italian made helicopter was in 2001. The AW139 has been ordered in over 700 units, about 60 of them are used by military, for VIP, SAR, Combat SAR and Utility duties.

At the exercise there was other units that in case of emergency would operate in the mountain area. Obviously there was an AB412SP from the local Corpo Forestale Dello Stato station. There was as media ship a rare NH500C that it's also based here at Belluno for the CFS. There were also an AB412HP "Alpino" version recognizable from the huge overhead radar from the Bolzano Air Section of the Guardia Di Finanza. Finally also from Bolzano there was an AB205A-1 (ESC-3) part of the 54th Group Squadrons of the 4th Regiment "Altair". In total 23 mission were flew for a total amount of flying time of about 11 hour. Four of these missions were operated by night by the AB-205 and the HH-139. The Activity began in the early afternoon starting with a pre-briefing for the Search and Recue teams, some of them also included Dog teammates, from the local SUEM, from the Corpo Nazionale Alpino e Speleologico and the Guardia Di Finanza. After that the teams were deployed close to the simulated crash in order search the area, some of them were released directly on the ground, some others were deployed by winch.

AB412HP mm81504

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Text and Photo by Marco Sommacal