43 Group - 43 Grupo

43 Air Force Group
43 Group (Seal Patch) .png
Emblem of the 43 Group
Active February 8, 1971 - present
country SpainFlag of Spain.svg Spain
Rama/s Air Force
Function Wildfire extinction and SAR
Specialization Fire fighting, SAR
Size 18 aircraft
Quartering Torrejón de Ardoz Air Base (Madrid)


Culture and history
Meeting Corsairs, seals

Turn off and let's go!
Where do I put my eye ... mojo!
I was in hell ... and I turned it off

When a mountain burns ... (in disuse)
Flight hours +185 000

The 43 Air Force Group is a unit of the Spanish Air Force organically dependent on the General Air Command (MAGEN), operationally on the Military Emergency Unit [ 1 ] and functionally on the Ministry for Ecological Transition , which will decide on its use .


The main mission of the 43 Group of Air Forces, according to the current Collaboration Agreement between the Ministry of Defense of Spain and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment , is to collaborate with the General Directorate of Natural Environment and Forest Policy in the extinction of forest fires. As a secondary mission, it has to support the missions of the Search and Rescue Service ( SAR ) of the Air Force.

The 43 Group maintains an alarm service, with crews and airplanes to act in the event of a forest fire, 365 days a year. Between October 1 and June 15, two planes are kept with their crews in a situation of immediate takeoff at the Torrejón Air Base . However, it is in the so-called "summer campaign" (between June 1 and October 31) when the Unit makes its best effort by maintaining a minimum of 70% of the available planes, with their crews, ready to act in anywhere in Spain . During this period the Unit is currently deployed in 7 detachments ( Santiago de Compostela , Talavera la Real , Salamanca , Zaragoza, Albacete , Málaga and Pollensa ), in addition to maintaining the alarm service at the Torrejón Air Base . During the winter, the agreement contemplates the possibility of establishing detachments in those areas that occasionally present a greater risk.

The Unit's scope of action is not restricted to national territory, which has allowed it to participate in missions to extinguish large forest fires in Bulgaria , France , Greece , Israel , Italy , Morocco and Portugal .

To meet these tasks, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment has placed at the disposal of the Ministry of Defense 14 Canadair CL-215T aircraft (UD-13 denomination in the Air Force ) and a Bombardier CL-415 . They are joined by three other Bombardier CL-415s from the Ministry of Defense (UD-14 denomination in the EA). All of them are operated and maintained by the Air Force . [ 2 ]

Likewise, to achieve its main role, the unit has developed its own cargo zone manual, which describes the landing procedure of the 560 points at which Canadair amphibious aircraft can operate throughout the Spanish geography. , including bays, rivers, lagoons, reservoirs, inlets, ports and coves.


The use of the air environment in forest fire protection tasks began at the beginning of the 20th century ; having as mission the detection of forest fires in the west coast of the United States . In the 1930s, work began with aircraft on purely extinction missions, with the United States , Canada and Australia being the pioneer countries in this type of flight. After World War IITaking advantage of technological advances in the world of aviation and the surpluses of military aircraft, the aircraft began to be used in missions proper to extinguish forest fires and the techniques, procedures and doctrine of use of this type of aircraft were configured. .

One of the countries hardest hit by forest fires was Canada . It also had the added problem of inaccessibility by land of most of the forested areas. In 1963 , the Canadair company began to study the design of a specific aircraft for this type of mission, the CL-204 , a design that responded to the requirements of the "Canadian National Research Council Associate Committee on Forest Fire Protection". It was an amphibious aircraft weighing 17,000 kg that did not make it past the study phase, but which served for the subsequent development of the CL-215. This aircraft was designed as an amphibian to take advantage of the country's great lakes and rivers, making its first flight on October 23, 1967 .

In Spain , the Ministry of Agriculture , was not alien to the serious problem of forest fires, and decided to acquire the first CL-215 , which were received on February 8, 1971 at the Getafe Air Base from Montreal , framing itself in the 803 Air Force Squadron. They were presented to the then Prince of Spain, HRH. Mr. Juan Carlos de Borbón , and sponsored by his son, the current King of Spain, HRH. D. Felipe de Borbón and Grecia .

The first mission of the CL-215 was a SAR search , west of Cape Finisterre on March 11, and the first extinction mission was carried out on July 9, 1971 , in the province of La Coruña , with a mixed crew (Canadian and Spanish). The first extinction with a totally Spanish crew took place on March 23, 1972, in the province of Cantabria .

One of the first Canadair CL215 of the 43 Group in full discharge.

In January 1973 , these planes together with L-9 ( Dornier Do-27 ) planes , with a 400- liter water tank , formed the 404 Air Force Squadron. After the satisfactory results in the operation of the CL-215 ; The purchase of new aircraft was decided and the Unit moved, in December 1973 , to be located at the Torrejón de Ardoz Air Base (Madrid). [ 3 ]

Since then, the following milestones and notable events have occurred by the Unit:

  • At the end of 1975 a couple of Canadair CL-215 participated in the Sahara Conflict , in support of the depleted AN.1A of the 802 Squadron. [ 4 ]
  • In June 1978 , with the presidency of Queen Sofía and the Prince of Asturias , the Unit's 10,000 flight hours were commemorated, that same month the Unit was awarded the first Gold Plate for Agricultural Merit.
  • On May 8, 1980 , the 404 Squadron was renamed the 43rd Air Force Group.
  • In September 1986 , 50,000 flight hours were reached, establishing the 43rd Group as one of the most operational Units of the Air Force .
  • On August 3, 1989 , the Ministry of Agriculture signed the re - engine contract to transform the CL-215 (conventional engine) aircraft into CL-215T (turboprop engine).
  • The first remotorized aircraft was received in August 1990 . Their final certification was achieved in 1993 and they have already assumed more than half of the deployments of the summer "campaign".
  • On November 5, 1993 , the Unit's 75,000 flight hours were celebrated.
  • In August 1999 , the 43 Group reached 100,000 flight hours. Many of them on real extinction missions.
  • In 2001 , on the occasion of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Plus Ultra flight , an aircraft of the Unit made the same flight, the crossing of the South Atlantic , between Torrejón de Ardoz and Buenos Aires .
Canadair CL215T of the 43 Group loading water in the Port of Palma de Mallorca.
  • In December 2002 , due to the sinking of the Prestige oil tanker off the Galician coast, the Unit collaborated in the surveillance device.
  • Since the creation of the Unit, it has been collaborating punctually in the extinction of fires, both with Morocco and Portugal, due to the existence of bilateral agreements with these countries. But it is since 2003, when the Unit's participation in international extinction missions has increased. These participations showed the need to carry out exchanges with other aerial fire fighting units, in order to share experiences and unify procedures and action tactics.

Since that year the Unit has participated in real missions of extinction at the request of help from other countries in Portugal , France , Morocco , Italy , Greece and Bulgaria , as well as in various exchanges and collaborations with other countries such as France, Greece and Croatia.

  • During the 2005 campaign , the Riba de Saelices ( Guadalajara ) fires stood out with great effectiveness in many fires, the one in Riba de Saelices ( Guadalajara ) standing out for its virulence, extension and human losses . It should be noted in the history of the Unit the month of August of that year in which 1,056 hours were flown in an extinction mission, a record if we take into account that this figure has been on more than one occasion the total of an entire firefighting campaign.
  • In July 2006 the Air Force received a new aircraft, the Bombardier CL-415 , outwardly very similar to the previous Canadair CL-215T . The biggest differences are in the flight deck, now mostly digital, and in the plane's water discharge system, which has been fitted with four doors instead of the original two.

The 2006 campaign in Galicia marked another of the milestones of this Unit, when 7 aircraft from the 43 Group, 2 French aircraft and 2 Italian aircraft were stationed at the Lavacolla airport in an attempt to control the 11-day wave of fires. toughest that are remembered in the Unit. [ 3 ]


Throughout its history, this Unit has suffered eight serious accidents, five of them with fatalities, in which fifteen of its members have lost their lives. [ 5 ]

These accidents took place in Mount Xiabre ( Pontevedra , September 8, 1976), Puerto Deportivo de Fuenterrabía ( Guipúzcoa , March 7, 1977), Port of Valencia (April 11, 1977), Beniarrés Reservoir ( Alicante , 12 1980), Buendía Reservoir ( Cuenca - Guadalajara , March 2, 1981), San Juan Reservoir ( Madrid , February 13, 1987), Lavacolla Airport ( La Coruña , September 9, 1988) and the Pollensa Bay (Mallorca , March 25, 2003). [ 5 ]

Recognitions and awards

  • Plaques: His Excellency the Provincial Council of Madrid, Gold Plate for Agricultural Merit, Silver Plate for the Promotion of Tourism in Mallorca , Silver Plate for the Higher Technical School of Forest Engineers of the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Silver Plate for the Xunta de Galicia, Gold Plaque of Civil Protection , Silver Plaque of the Albacete Provincial Council , Silver Plaque of the Province of Ojuda ( Morocco ), Silver Plaque of the Galician Federation of Air sports, Silver Plaque of the Balearic Government, Plaque of Silver from the Council of La Canonja, Silver Plaque from the Tarragona Provincial Council , Silver Plaque from the Galician Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry .
  • Acknowledgments: Forest Guards of Catalonia , Government of Galicia , Oscar de Oro de la Comunicación, Nueva Olimpia Social Action Award, Flag of the Fire Prevention and Extinction Directorate, Infoca Service ( Andalusia ), Forest Work Award ( Andalusia ) , Mediterranean Award ( Mallorca ), Honorary Forest Engineer, Ruíz de la Torre Award from the Andalusian Forestry Association, Batefuegos de Oro, Tragsa Trophy, Metopa and Replica of the Monument to the Forest Agent of the Murcian Community in recognition of the Inestimable work and Delivery in the Fight Against Forest Fires, Defender of the Environment of Castilla-La Mancha.


  • Various Authors (2003). Encyclopedia of Spanish Military Aviation . Chiron Editions.
  • Bourdón García, Carlos; Pardo Onrubia, José Ramón (2004). Emblems and Shields of the Air Force, 1954-2004 . Vision net. ISBN 84-9770-379-0 .
  • Belmonte de Gálvez, Manuel (December 18, 2018) [2150]. In pass. Of planes, souls and flames . ASIN: B07KFQDKGG. Amazinante Editions.
  • Yáñez, Roberto; Ávila, Gonzalo (2000). Canadair CL-215 and Cl215T . Reserva Anticipada SL ISBN 84-95493-02-0 .
  • Ramos Jácome, Gonzalo (2013). Canadair amphibious aircraft operated by the Spanish Air Force in the fight against forest fires . Publications Center of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment. ISBN 978-84-491-1286-7 .
  • Sales Lluch, José Miguel. Wings over the desert . Galland Books.


  1. ^ 43 Air Force Group Archived November 30, 2016 at the Wayback Machine .. Air Force (Accessed August 7, 2017).
  2. Air Force . "43 Group of Air Forces" . ejercitodelaire.mde.es . Archived from the original on April 15, 2017 . Retrieved April 14, 2017 .
  3. a b c Air Force . "43 Group of Air Forces" . ejercitodelaire.mde.es . Archived from the original on April 15, 2017 . Retrieved April 14, 2017 .
  4. ^ Sales Lluch, José Miguel. Wings over the desert . Galland Books.
  5. ^ A b Belmonte de Gálvez, Manuel (December 18, 2018) [2150]. In pass. Of planes, souls and flames . ASIN: B07KFQDKGG. ISNB: 42-37.026-008-45.526. Amazinante Editions.

See also

external links