Army aviation basically refers to a part of a country’s or nation’s army, as in defense institution; army aviation can also be called air corps, especially in the United States, where the term is preferred. An army aviation unit can refer to an aviation-related unit of a country’s army but it is separate from said country’s air force. The main difference is that a nation’s air force deals with national military organization and deals with aerial warfare in case of attack or as part of larger battle operations. The army aviation is mostly constituted from helicopters and fixed-wing aircrafts.
The responsibilities and obligations of an army aviation differ from country to country, depending on a number of factors which are too many and complex to mention, but there are some general aspects that homogenize the idea and give it context. Thus army aviation will generally deal with battlefield and logistic support (for the air force, mainly), with the strategic transport of personnel or other vital material within and outside of a country, or with the search, rescue and medical evacuation of wounded soldiers or civilian casualties.
Army aviation is also supposed to deal with anti-tank warfare and assault duties which it can do in the absence of air force as well as helping it with fire support and reconnaissance. Surveillance, flight training, liaisons and disaster relief are other army aviation responsibilities and obligations. Basically they deal with organizational aspects of a country’s warfare or with helping in case of attacks, natural disasters and so on. They can also be lent from country to country to help with graver situations that require more manpower and more aircrafts.
As mentioned before, the main aircraft used by the army aviation is the helicopter because it is easier to handle, to get into and out of conflict zones with minimal casualties or damage. One can also better observe the duties of army aviation officers by taking a look at the types of helicopters they use; thus, we have attack helicopters – which can fire against enemy tanks and others in order to help ground troops –, observation helicopters – for reconnaissance purposes –, transport helicopters, training helicopters, utility helicopters and CSAR helicopters.
CSAR helicopters, also called Casualty Evacuation or MEDEVAC are meant, obviously, to transport injured or dead soldiers as well as civilian casualties out of the conflict zone. Utility helicopters can, more or less, fulfill all of the roles of the helicopters mentioned above.