The Airmobile Brigade "Friuli" is an airmobile brigade of the Italian Army, based mainly in the north-east of the country. The brigade was part of the 1st Defence Forces Command until it was transferred to the Division "Friuli".
The Infantry Brigade Friuli was formed on 1 November 1884, in Milan and consisted of the 87th Infantry Regiment "Friuli" and the 88th Infantry Regiment "Friuli". At the outbreak of hostilities between Kingdom of Italy and the Austrian Empire in 1915 the Friuli along with the Infantry Brigade "Cremona" formed the 16th Division of the Line. The brigade fought bravely in World War I but was dissolved after the war on 28 December 1926.
The 20th Infantry Division Friuli was formed on 24 August 1939 by renaming the existing 20th Infantry Division Curtatone e Montanara in Livorno. The division was immediately split to create the 44th Infantry Division Cremona, but it retained its traditional regiments: the 87th and 88th infantry regiments.
After the armistice between Italy and the Allies on 3 September 1943 the Friuli fought on the allied side as part of the Italian Co-Belligerent Army.
After World War II the division was the only division of the IV Military Territorial Command and based in the city of Bolzano. In 1949 the division moved to Florence where it joined the VII Military Territorial Command. There the division was augmented with the 78th Infantry Regiment Lupi di Toscana, 8th Field Artillery Regiment and 3rd Light Anti-Air Artillery Regiment. Later the 3rd Light Anti-Air Artillery Regiment was replaced by the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment Piemonte Cavalleria.
In September 1956 the Friuli and the Trieste Motorised Infantry Division entered the newly raised VI Army Corps. On 15 April 1960, the Friuli Infantry Division was reduced to brigade, losing all its traditional regiments. The brigade was headquartered in Florence and most of its units stationed in the surrounding region of Tuscany. By 1964 the structure of the Infantry Brigade Friuli was:Infantry Brigade Friuli:
78th Infantry Regiment Lupi di Toscana with three infantry battalions
XIX Armored Battalion with M26 Pershing
Field Artillery Group Friuli with M114 155/23 towed howitzers
Light Anti-Air Artillery Group Friuli with M1 40/56
Engineer Company Friuli
Signal Company Friuli
Light aeroplane section Friuli with L-21A Super Cub
With the abolishment of the regimental level in Italy on 23 September 1975, the brigade changed name and became the Motorized Brigade Friuli. The new structure was:Motorized Brigade Friuli:
Friuli Command and Signal Battalion in Florence
19th Armored Battalion M.O. Butera in Florence, with a mix of M47 Patton main battle tanks and M113 armoured personnel carriers
35th Motorized (Reserve) Infantry Battalion Pistoia in Pistoia
78th Motorized Infantry Battalion Lupi di Toscana in Scandicci
87th Motorized Infantry Battalion Senio in Pistoia
225th Motorized Infantry Battalion Arezzo in Arezzo
35th Field Artillery Group Riolo in Pistoia, with M114 155/23 towed howitzers
Friuli Logistic Battalion in Coverciano
Friuli Anti-tank Company in Scandicci
Friuli Engineer Company in Florence
On 1 January 1986, the Friuli Brigade and the Folgore Parachute Brigade, in conjunction with some units of the Army's Light Army Aviation and the Navy's San Marco Regiment, became the Rapid Intervention Forces of the Italian Military, deployable on short notice for out of area missions.
After the end of the Cold War and the subsequent reduction of the Italian Army the Friuli merged on 1 June 1991 with the Trieste Mechanized Brigade. Although the new brigade was named Friuli Mechanized Brigade, it was headquartered in Bologna in the HQ building of the Trieste brigade. Before the merger the 87th Motorized Infantry Battalion Senio had been disbanded on 31 January 1991 and the 35th Field Artillery Group Riolo and 19th Armored Battalion on 6 May 1991.
After the reintroduction of the regimental level in 1992 the brigade was then composed of the following units as of 1 January 1993:Command and Signal Battalion (later renamed Command and Tactical Support Battalion)
4th Tank Regiment (later renamed 33rd Tank Regiment)
6th Mechanized Bersaglieri Regiment
66th Mechanized Battalion Valtellina (later renamed 66th Infantry Regiment Trieste)
78th Infantry Regiment Lupi di Toscana
225th Infantry Regiment Arezzo (later replaced by the 121st Infantry Regiment Macerata)
21st Self-propelled Artillery Group Romagna (later renamed 21st Self-propelled Field Artillery Regiment Trieste)
Friuli Logistic Battalion
Engineer Company (merged in September 1993 into the Command and Signal Battalion)
During the late 1990s the brigade was reorganized to become Italy's first and only Air Assault Brigade. The 33rd Tank was transferred to the Ariete Armored Brigade and the 121st Infantry Regiment to the Legnano Mechanized Brigade; the 21st Self-propelled Artillery Regiment was transferred to the Pinerolo Armored Brigade in Southern Italy. In 1995 the brigade received the 4th Army Corps' 3rd Cavalry Regiment Savoia Cavalleria, which was transferred from Meran in South Tyrol to Grosseto in Tuscany. On 5 September of the same year the 78th Infantry Regiment Lupi di Toscana left the brigade to become a basic training regiment. On 1 January 1999, the 7th Army Aviation Regiment Vega and on 1 May 2000, the 5th Army Aviation Regiment Rigel were transferred to the brigade, which on the second date changed its name to Airmobile Brigade "Friuli". On 27 June 2001 the Friuli Logistic Battalion became the 6th Transport Regiment and was transferred to the Logistic Projection Brigade. On 1 January 2005, the 6th Bersaglieri Regiment was transferred to the Aosta Mechanized Brigade on Sicily.
During the 2013 reform the Friuli ceded the 3rd Cavalry Regiment Savoia Cavalleria to the Folgore Parachute Brigade. In turn the Friuli was destined to merge with the Cavalry Brigade Pozzuolo del Friuli: In preparation for the merger the Friuli ceded its name on 16 July 2013 to the Division Friuli in Florence so that the name and traditions of the Cavalry Brigade Pozzuolo del Friuli could be passed to the former Airmobile Brigade "Friuli". However as of February 2017 the merger is on hold and therefore the brigade is currently structured as follows: Airmobile Brigade "Friuli" in Bologna (Emilia-Romagna)
Command and Tactical Support Battalion "Friuli" in Bologna (Emilia-Romagna)
66th Airmobile Infantry Regiment "Trieste" in Forlì (Emilia-Romagna) with VTLM Lince vehicles
5th Army Aviation Regiment "Rigel" in Casarsa (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
27th Squadron Group "Mercurio" with two NH90 transport helicopter squadrons and one A109A EOA reconnaissance helicopter squadron
49th Squadron Group "Capricorno" with three A129D Attack Helicopter squadrons
Flight Support Group "Lupo"
7th Army Aviation Regiment "Vega" in Rimini (Emilia-Romagna)
25th Squadron Group "Cigno" with three NH90 transport helicopter squadrons
48th Squadron Group "Pavone" with three A129D attack helicopter squadrons
53rd Squadron Group "Cassiopea" with three NH90 transport helicopter squadrons
Flight Support Group
All regiments are battalion sized.
The Trieste infantry regiment is equipped with Puma 6x6 armored personnel carriers. The regiment's mortar company is equipped with 120mm mortars, while the anti-tank company fields Spike anti-tank guided missile systems. The Rigel army aviation regiment fields three A129 Mangusta attack helicopter squadrons, and two NH90 utility helicopter squadrons, and one A109A EOA reconnaissance helicopter squadron. The Vega army aviation regiment fields three A129 Mangusta attack helicopter and six NH90 utility helicopter squadrons.