Australian Army Aviation (AAAvn) is a corps of the Australian Army., and was formed on 1 July 1968 with a strength of 106 officer pilots., although it has a history dating back to 1911, when the Minister of Defence at the time, Senator George Pearce, decided there should be a flying school in the Defence Department. The motto of the Australian Army Aviation corps is Vigilance.
The Aviation Corps utilises soldiers from various other Army corps. The Royal Australian Corps of Transport trains and provides air dispatchers, while the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers trains aircraft structural fitters, who maintain aircraft life support equipment, and avionics technicians. Members of the Aviation Corps are entitled to wear a sky blue beret.
The design of the colour patch of the Australian Army Aviation Corps is based on the patch of the original Australian Army Flying Corps, from which the Aviation Corps was born. The two Aviation regiments have individual colour patches utilising the Corps patch. 1st Aviation Regiment's patch features a black rectangle in the centre of the Corps patch, 5th Aviation Regiment's patch features a black diamond in the centre.
The Army's air assets are comprised mostly of rotary wing aircraft (helicopters), the Royal Australian Air Force operates the majority of the Australian Defence Force's fixed wing fleet. A limited number of fixed wing aircraft are utilised by Aviation Corps, mostly in a surveillance role.
The MRH 90 (Multi Role Helicopter 90, an Australian variant of the NHI NH90) will replace the 5th Aviation Regiment's Black Hawk fleet. The aircraft are designed for use in a troop-lift role. The first test flight of an MRH-90 was conducted at Eurocopter’s flight test centre in Marignane, France on the 28th of March, 2007. A total of 46 helicopters will be delivered, the first four of which built at Eurocopter's main plant in France, the remainder built in Brisbane by Australian Aerospace. The first two MRH 90 helicopters will be delivered in December 2007, with twelve in use by 2008. The MRH-90 was chosen ahead of the UH-60M Black Hawk.
The Tiger ARH (Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter) was designed to provide significant reconnaissance and fire support in a combined arms team and is equipped with Hellfire missiles, 70mm rockets and cannons. 22 Tigers will be delivered to the Army under the AIR 87 Project, built at the Australian Aerospace Brisbane facility.
The S70A-9 Black Hawk is operated by 5 Aviation Regiment, 171 Aviation Squadron and the School of Army Aviation. Its tasks include tactical transport of infantry soldiers, search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster relief and external carriage of heavy equipment including artillery howitzers and light vehicles. The Army's Black Hawks were manufactured in Australia, under licence from Sikorsky, by Hawker De Havilland.
The CH-47D Chinook is operated by C Squadron, 5 Aviation Regiment. C Squadron was raised on the Army order of battle in June 1995, on the return of the Chinooks to Australia after re-manufacture by Boeing USA. The Chinooks' primary role is logistic and battlefield support. They can also be ustilised in the troop-lift role.
The UH-1H Iroquois (Huey) was used for the transport of soldiers and equipment, search and rescue, civilian disaster relief and minor logistics. The Iroquois are operated by A Squadron, 5 Aviation Regiment and the School of Army Aviation. After 39 years of service with the ADF, the last Iroquois was retired on 21 September 2007.
The Bell 206B-1 Kiowa has been in service with the Army since 1972; its main roles being observation and rotary flying training. It is also utilised for the command and control of tactical aircraft, such as the F/A-18 and F-111. They often work closely with artillery and armoured cavalry units. The majority of the Kiowa fleet is located in Darwin, used by 1 Aviation Regiment.
173 Surveillance Squadron, based in Oakey, operates the Beechcraft B300 King Air 350 in Command and Control, Surveillance, and Transport roles.
Basic groundcrewman aircraft support training consists of 3 individual courses, totalling approximately 19 weeks.
The first course conducted is a basic drivers course where soldiers gain qualifications in operating the Army Landrover 110 and Unimog truck. This lasts for 38 days and is held at Puckapunyal in Victoria. The next course to be completed is the two week bulk fuel tanker course held at the Army Logistic Training Centre at Bandiana in Victoria. This course involves instruction in operating bulk and portable refuelling equipment and fuel quality control. The final course, and longest in duration at 9 to 12 weeks is the forward arming and refuelling course, held at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre in Queensland. Here soldiers are taught aircraft refuelling and arming operation both in the barracks and field environment.
Throughout their career, Groundcrewman Aircraft Support also attend the following courses as part of their career development and trade proficiency:
As with Groundcrewman aircraft support, soldiers employed as groundcrewman mission support may also attend further courses throughout their career. These include a comsec custodian course; an information systems course; an advanced combat communicators course; and a workplace assessor course.