The new unit will have newly acquired Eurocopter EC-135 helicopters

The Spanish Navy announces its 12th Squadron and the goodbye of the AB-212 and the Cayuse

The Aircraft Fleet (FLOAN) of the Spanish Navy has officially had a new unit for a few days: the Twelfth Squadron.

The Air Arm of the Spanish Navy in old photographs of the US National Archives
The meaning of the different colors of the flight personnel on warships

The 36 EC-135 helicopters purchased by Spain

In December 2021 you could read here the news of the purchase of 36 EC-135 helicopters by Spain, of which 18 would be destined for the Ministry of Defense, specifically the Air Force and the Navy. The examples destined for the Aircraft Fleet will serve to replace the seven Hughes 500 Cayuse of the 6th Squadron.

The Navy began to receive the first of a total of 14 Cayuses in 1972. The oldest still in service arrived in Spain in January 1973, so they turned 50 last month active. These helicopters are used mainly for teaching tasks, and although they are based in Rota (Cádiz), it is common to see them at the Marín Naval Military School (Pontevedra).

One of the 16 EC-135 of the Spanish Army (Photo: Ministerio de Defensa).

The creation of the 12th Squadron and goodbye to the Cayuses

On February 14, the Official Gazette of the Ministry of Defense published Resolution 600/02549/23 of the Admiral Chief of Staff of the Navy, on the creation of the Twelfth Squadron of the Aircraft Fleet. The resolution, approved on February 6, states: "To replace the aeronautical teaching helicopter in the Navy, the Council of Ministers on June 29, 2021 approved the joint acquisition of H-135 helicopters between the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense, with seven units corresponding to the Navy. As the date of receipt by the Aircraft Fleet of the first units of this helicopter is close, it is convenient to proceed to the creation of the squad in which they will be framed." The new squadron, like the previous ones, will be located at the Rota Naval Base, under the direct dependence of the Commander of the Aircraft Fleet (COMFLOAN).

One of the Hughes 500 Cayuse of the Sixth Squadron, the HS.13-10 with number 01-610. This helicopter arrived in Spain in March 1973 (Photo: Armada Española).

Yesterday it was posted on forum a corporate information note from the Admiral of the Fleet (ALFLOT) stating that the new EC-135 "will be delivered successively to the Navy between October 2023 and October 2025. These helicopters , whose main mission will be teaching and support, will come to replace the veteran H-500 of the Sixth Squadron, which has produced such excellent performance in its more than 50 years of service."

From what this note says, and following the custom of the Navy, it can be assumed that the Sixth Squadron will be dissolved, the same thing that happened with the Eighth Squadron (which included the AV-8S Harrier fighters) when the new EAV-8B Harrier II arrived, which were framed in a new unit, the Ninth Squadron, currently active.

The paint scheme of the new EC-135 of the Navy (Image: ALFLOT).

The paint scheme of the EC-135 and the emblem of the new squadron

The ALFLOT corporate information note also includes the paint scheme of the new EC-135 of the Navy , with the traditional gray color of FLOAN aircraft and low visibility inscriptions. According to the released image, the new helicopters will bear the inscription "Armada" on the drift, unlike the AB-212, which has it on the tail, just in front of the horizontal stabilizers.

The emblem of the Twelfth Squadron, which includes a mascot snowy owl and a rendering of an EC-135 (Image: ALFLOT).

Likewise, the ALFLOT note indicates the following: "The shield proposed for the Twelfth Squadron highlights the image of the snowy owl or great white owl, a bird that represents wisdom in many cultures and therefore pedagogy, necessary qualities in the task of teaching, which is one of the squadron's main missions." ALFLOT also announces the squadron's motto, which will be in Latin: "Disce et vola" (Learn and fly), which "intends to express concisely and forcefully the main raison d'être of this new Squadron". The note adds: "In keeping with the call signs traditionally used by FLOAN aircraft, the Twelfth Squadron will use 'Nival'."

One of the Agusta-Bell AB-212 of the Third Squadron of the Spanish Navy. They are nicknamed "Cats" in the Navy, due to their radio callsign (Photo: Armada Española).

The decommissioning of the AB-212 'Gato' is scheduled for 2024

The aforementioned corporate information note from ALFLOT also includes news about another of FLOAN's veteran aircraft, stating that the new EC-135 helicopters "will occupy the hangar that currently houses the Third Squadron (AB- 212), whose discharge is scheduled for July 31, 2024". Let us remember that the Third Squadron was formed in 1965, initially being equipped with Agusta-Bell 204 helicopters, the first version of the famous Huey. Between 1974 and 1980 the unit received the most modern Agusta-Bell AB-212 .

One of the NH-90 Lobo of the Spanish Air Force (Image: Miketheavgeek).

Currently, the Spanish Navy has seven AB-212, which have undergone successive updates to extend their operational life. At the moment, its replacement is unknown: there was talk of the NH-90 HSPN, the naval version of the NH-90 already used by the Army and the Air Force, but at the moment there are not many news about it. That the withdrawal of the "Gatos" from the Navy has already been scheduled could indicate that they already have a planned replacement.

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