AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy – The U.S. Air Force’s 56th and 57th Rescue Squadrons (RQSs), known as the “Guardian Angels,” have found a new home in a recently completed Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Europe Africa Southwest Asia (EURAFSWA)-built facility at Aviano Air Base, Italy.
The 27,300 square ft. facility, originally designed to support the 8th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS), includes offices, programming spaces, conference rooms, simulator support, a small armory, a small gym, vehicle maintenance bays, outdoor covered parking and a vehicle wash rack. The $9 million Military Construction (MILCON) project began in September 2011 but was left without an end user when the 8th ASOS was disbanded in 2013. The project faced multiple significant design challenges, but NAVFAC EURAFSWA’s ROICC Northern Italy team successfully delivered the project to its Air Force partners in February 2016.
"I want to thank the U.S. Navy for constructing Building 7300 on behalf of the Air Force. The NAVFAC ROICC Office superbly managed the complex coordination between our two services," said 31st Civil Engineer Squadron Deputy Commander Paul Bailey. "They built this beautiful facility originally for a now departed Air Support Operations Squadron, but fortunately it won’t remain vacant for long because we’re looking to bed-down a portion of the 56th and 57th Rescue Squadrons in this building in the years ahead."
The Guardian Angels’ relocation will start in fiscal year 2017 and will be completed over the course of 2-3 years. The relocation will place the squadron in a strategic position to execute recovery missions across Africa, Europe and Southwest Asia. The 56th RQS, composed of aircrews and helicopters, and the 57th RQS, composed of para-rescue airmen, are separate units in accordance with standard Air Force structure. The two units must work together to execute their often difficult and dangerous missions.
The expected excess capacity represented in part by the ASOS facility was a factor in the European Infrastructure Consolidation review’s decision to relocate the 56th and 57th RQSs to Aviano. However, since the ASOS facility was not designed for the needs of a rescue squadron, additional construction work in Aviano is planned to support the needs of the Guardian Angels’ 350 personnel and five HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters. Preparations for the new design are already underway.
NAVFAC EURAFSWA’s ROICC Northern Italy, based in Vicenza, Italy executes construction in support of U.S. forces across northern Italy.