NAQOURA, JULY 4 – A group of 35 Italian UNIFIL veterans who have served with the ITALAIR helicopters fleet since 1979 recently visited the peacekeeping mission’s headquarters in Naquoura (Southern Lebanon). The occasion, on the 40th anniversary of the peacekeeping air force, allowed the pilots to meet younger colleagues and remember the time spent in the region.
ITALAIR, or Italian Air, is one of the oldest units in the UN peacekeeping mission in Southern Lebanon. With four decades of continuous service, ITALAIR has been a witness to much of UNIFIL and South Lebanon’s history, not to mention its own accomplishments, hardships, losses, and lessons learned.
The unit was established in July 1979 with just one helicopter as an aerial support unit for UNIFIL’s operations. Over the years, ITALAIR pilots have flown more than 36,000 hours, carrying more than 145,000 passengers on its transport missions.
After the July 2006 war in South Lebanon and the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1701, ITALAIR became a task force. The old helicopters were replaced with new and more advanced models, resulting in the current fleet of Agusta Bell 212 helicopters. (@OnuItalia)