Colombia Builds First Army Aviation Logistics Center
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo March 22, 2017The Colombian government has made its Army Aviation Logistics Center (CLAVE, per its Spanish acronym) operational. The center will help the Colombian Army’s Air Assault Aviation Division respond quickly to any demand. CLAVE arose from the need to provide organizational support to the Colombian Army Aviation fleet of aircraft. The center’s support includes receipt, transport, storage, protection, and distribution of aeronautical equipment, according to a Colombian Army press release. The center’s opening ceremony was held on February 11th at Lieutenant General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla Air Field in Tolemaida. It was presided over by General Alberto José Mejía Ferrero, commander of the Colombian Army; Major General Denis Thompson, commander of the Multinational Observers Force in the Sinai; and Major General Emiro José Barrios Jiménez, commander of the Air Assault Aviation Division of the Colombian Army. Measuring more than 9,000 square meters, CLAVE was designed and built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Colombia provided more than $17 million for the project’s construction. With this center, Colombia will also be able to administer aeronautical replacement parts for 150 rotary-wing aircraft. Among the aircraft are 15 UH-60-LIMA Black Hawk helicopters, acquired in 2008. “The U.S. authorities will officially hand over the logistics center to the Air Assault Aviation Division, [which will] oversee the storage and strategic reserve of aeronautical components, making this facility the best in class in the region,” Lieutenant Colonel Fernando Álvarez Serrato told Diálogo. He commands the Supply and Service Battalion for Colombian Army Aviation. Lt. Col. Álvarez pointed out that CLAVE will not only centralize all of the logistics and aviation materials previously located at six different places but will also help cast air logistics as a key pillar for carrying out operations, as it will have direct control over all materials. “This will benefit aircraft and crew readiness so they can carry out their national security and defense missions, and it will be more efficient in providing support for disaster response, environmental problems, and participation in international missions,” Professor Alejo Vargas Velásquez, of the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, told Diálogo. In 2013, upon approval of the project, the U.S. Army directly contracted the Colombian company PROKSOL to perform studies and plan the work to be done in the 25th Brigade at Fort Tolemaida. CLAVE meets international standards for conducting air logistics activities. The center has a closed-circuit television system with 109 video cameras and two fire-control tanks that can hold 1 million liters of water, as well as an administration area, special warehouses with night vision lenses and avionics, and a fire extinguisher system that covers the entire logistics center. The center’s facilities are equipped with intruder alert and biometric access control systems. The area assigned to the out-of-service warehouse (FUSER, per its Spanish acronym), has a particulate suction system in the parts cutting area. This prevents volatile compounds from remaining in the atmosphere at the construction site. The warehouse where chemicals and flammables are stored has two-hour fire resistance. In the loading zone, there are two docks for simultaneous unloading. CLAVE is part of the Transformation Plan for the Army of the Future, set for the year 2030. The plan seeks to reinforce the Colombian Army’s technical and technological capacities so that it can respond effectively to the range of challenges and threats that the future will demand. “It’s important that we improve the logistics procedures and systems in our aviation fleet through a management structure that is also international, because once our conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and surely with the National Liberation Army, has ended, the challenges and missions in national defense and security are going to change,” Vargas noted. Colombia is continuing its fight against crime syndicates far and wide across the country. According to the Colombian Army, the Air Assault Aviation Division, together with CLAVE, will add to mobility and support in national and international operations. “We have a very close relationship with U.S. Southern Command. There is a dynamic and ongoing exchange of coordination and cooperation. With their support, we have improved various air logistics processes,” Lt. Col. Álvarez said. “Thanks to this cooperation, Colombia has a logistics unit that is agile, trained, equipped, safe, and reliable. We want to show CLAVE to the other army aviation forces of the world,” he concluded. The Colombian Army plans to show CLAVE to the army aviation forces of other nations attending the next International Army Aviation Conference, in order to work with partner nations on logistical aviation procedures.