Its origin dates back to the Helicopter Section of the Spanish National Police

The history and aircraft of the Aerial Media Service of the Spanish National Police

In 2024 the 45th anniversary of an important Spanish police unit will be celebrated: the Aerial Media Service of the National Police Corps.

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The first police aircraft in Spain arrived in May 1935, during the Second Republic: they were two Polish planes acquired by the newborn Air Section of the General Directorate of Security, dependent of the Ministry of the Interior and organized by a famous aviator: the then Lieutenant Joaquín García-Morato.

One of the two Aérospatiale Alouette II acquired by the Armed Police in 1975 and with which the Helicopter Section of the National Police was formed in 1979, the seed of the current Aerial Media Service (Photo: Cuerpo Nacional de Policía).

The Air Section had a short life, because shortly after acquiring two Polish small planes, the government transferred them to the Directorate of Aeronautics. The Spanish Police would not have new aircraft again until 1975, the last year of the Franco regime, when the Armed Police acquired two Aérospatiale Alouette II helicopters.

MBB Bö105-CBS helicopter (EC-FNO, cn S-869) of the National Police Corps, flying over the city center of Vigo on June 4, 2012 (Photo: Elentir).

In 1978 the Armed Police became the National Police Corps, and in 1979 the Helicopter Section of the National Police was formed with those two Alouette II helicopters. That section served as the basis for the current Air Media Service, which in 1983 acquired its first MBB Bö-105 helicopters, completing a total of 16 units of this model in 1992. Today they continue eight of them are active.

A Eurocopter EC-135P-2+ (EC-KOA, cn 0536) of the Aerial Media Service of the National Police Corps of Spain, the "Ángel 24", flying over Vigo on September 24, 2015 (Photo: Elentir).

Currently, the SMA has its main base at the Cuatro Vientos Aerodrome, in Madrid, in addition to having peripheral bases in Barcelona, Bilbao, the Canary Islands, Malaga, Mallorca, Seville, Valencia and Vigo. SMA itself is responsible for the training of its personnel, including pilots, maintenance technicians and operators of special systems and optional equipment. Its main missions are surveillance and collaboration with other police units, including the Special Operations Group (GEO), in addition to collaborating with emergency and rescue services in the location, rescue and evacuation of possible victims. Each SMA helicopter carries three crew members: two pilots and a systems operator, in charge of managing the aircraft's surveillance means.

The Beechcraft Super King Air B200 EC-GBB of the Air Media Service, in a photo from years ago. It currently flies with a dark blue decoration similar to that worn by National Police vehicles (Photo: Cuerpo Nacional de Policía).

The SMA has been renewed with more modern aircraft, including two Eurocopter EC-120 Colibri helicopters and 19 Eurocopter EC-135, in addition to two fixed-wing aircraft: Cessna Citation II Model 550 from 1980 (the EC-IAX, received in 2009 and seized from Marbella Airways in Operation Malaya) and a 1976 Beechcraft Super King Air B200 (the EC-GBB), both from seizures. The SMA had another fixed-wing aircraft, a Cessna 421C Golden Eagle from 1977 (EC-ILJ), received in 2003 and which was already withdrawn from service years ago.

The Cessna Citation II EC-IAX executive transport aircraft of the Air Media Service (Photo: Cuerpo Nacional de Policía).

The most recent and peculiar addition to the SMA is an EHang 216 autonomous aerial vehicle, manufactured in communist China and with an electric motor. It was presented in October 2021 and is like a large manned drone, with the capacity for two people, 600 kg in weight and with the capacity to operate in small spaces and access areas with CBRN contamination.

The EHang 216 of the Air Media Service (Image: Ministerio del Interior).

To learn more about the SMA, you can see this report published today by the Ministry of the Interior, titled "Indicativo Cóndor" and which shows the helicopters operated by the National Police from Cuatro Vientos (the video is in Spanish, you can activate the automatic English subtitles in the bottom bar of the player):

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