The ITALAIR Task Force (TF), an Italian helicopter component deployed in the Lebanon mission, has completed 40 years of continuous presence.
Originally called "ITALAIR Helicopter Squadron", the unit was deployed near the town of Naqoura, south of the cedar country, from 3 July 1979, to fulfill what is required by the Council's 425 / 1978 and 426 / 1978 resolutions Security of the United Nations that subsequently gave birth to the United Nation Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), with the mandate to restore peace and international security and assist the Government of Lebanon in the resumption of its effective authority in the territory.
Following the escalation of the conflict between Lebanon and Israel of the 2006, the United Nations, with the 1701 resolution of the same year, extended the competences of UNIFIL, expanding its mandate in monitoring the cessation of hostilities between the two countries, assisting the Armed Forces Lebanese and support the local population.
In this context, the ITALAIR Task Force ", thus renamed by the 2006, carries out different types of flight missions in the area of operations, ranging from medical evacuations (Medevac), for which a structure is always in operational readiness, to the fire protection of wooded and rural areas; from logistical transport to aerial patrols on the Blue Line, the "practical" demarcation line along 120 kilometers that separates Lebanon from Israel; from research and support to the population in the event of public disasters to the transport of visiting Authorities in the areas covered by UNIFIL.
The ITALAIR Task Force, established in the 1979, continuously supports the United Nations activities in Lebanon, guaranteeing daily 24 hours on 24 its performance in the entire Operations Area. ITALAIR is a joint unit (Joint) that currently employs AB-212 helicopters of the Italian Army Aviation, based on 2 ° AVES Regiment "Sirio", stationed in Lamezia Terme, and flight crews and support military personnel belonging mainly to to the Italian Army, with the competition of the Navy and the Air Force. It is the longest running operational unit of the Italian Armed Forces in the field of international missions as well as being the only inter-force flight unit (with Joint crews) deployed from Italy in an Operating Theater.
The heart of the TF consists of 6 dual-turbine helicopters AB 212, with day and night instrumental flight capability, integrated self-protection system and stabilization and with the possibility of landing on any surface of the operation area, with flight autonomy estimated at just under 2 hours. From the 3 July of the 1979, ITALAIR has completed approximately 42.100 flight hours, transported over 171.000 passengers, performed 1.250 medical evacuations for a total of 48.400 flight missions carried out.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary, a memorial ceremony was organized yesterday at the ancient Roman ruins of the Tire racecourse, which were attended, in addition to the local authorities, by the Italian ambassador to Lebanon, Massimo Marotti, the head of mission and force commander of UNIFIL general division Stefano Del Col, commander of the UNIFIL West Sector and commander of the Italian contingent in Lebanon.
To celebrate the event, 39 officers and non-commissioned officers came from Italy, today no longer in active service, who in the past years have come and gone in the ITALAIR team.
During the ceremony, the fallen of the 6 August 1997 flight incident were remembered, costing the lives of 3 crew members and 2 passengers.