A DART exercise carried out at an undisclosed location in that country

Spanish and US soldiers in a simulated shootdown of a Spanish helicopter in Iraq

As the Battle of Mogadishu (1993) demonstrated, the downing of an aircraft can lead to a very complex combat scenario.

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To deal with this type of situation, the US Armed Forces are trained in the formation of downed aircraft recovery teams (DART) at the battalion level, whose mission is to provide security for a rescue, treat and evacuate the injured, assess the damage to the aircraft and recover it for return to base.

On March 15, military forces from Spain and the United States participated in a DART exercise at an undisclosed location in Iraq. The United States contributed personnel from the 3-82nd General Aviation Support Battalion (3-82 GSAB) to the exercise, attached to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division, a Battalion that has generated the call Task Force Talon. Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the US Army's 15th Field Artillery Regiment, assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division, also participated. This team is the generator of what is known as Task Force Redleg.

Spain provided personnel and a Cougar helicopter from ISPUHEL XIX, known as Task Force Toro, which participates in Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) in support of the international coalition against ISIS terrorists. This unit operates from the Al Asad Air Base, in the Ambar Governorate (west of Iraq), where 55 Spanish soldiers and 4 AS-532 Cougar helicopters of the Airmobile Forces of the Spanish Army (FAMET) are deployed. In February, this unit reached 9,000 flight hours in that operation.

Yesterday, the US Army published the photos of this exercise, in which we see a Spanish Cougar helicopter with Spanish and American soldiers. The photos were taken by Sergeant Vincent Levelev of the US Army.

The soldiers with trucker hats in the foreground are from Task Force Talon, as they wear patches of the 82nd Airborne Division. These soldiers are the ones who formed the DART team for the recovery of the simulated downing of a Spanish helicopter, according to the limited information published by the US Army.

Among the American personnel, soldiers from Task Force Redleg can be distinguished in the background, as they wear patches of the 10th Mountain Division.

The Spanish helicopter that appears in the foreground is the Cougar HU.21L-51 ET-651. This is an aircraft that already has real experience in DART missions: in 2005, when this helicopter was deployed in Afghanistan, received a notice to go help another downed Spanish Cougar helicopter 20 km north south of Herat, the HU.21L-57 ET-657. In that same incident, another Spanish Cougar that came to rescue ET-657, the HU.21L-59 ET-659, was damaged. In that fall, classified as an accident by According to the official report, 12 soldiers from the Brigade "Galicia" VII (BRILAT) and 5 soldiers from the FAMET died.

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