Combat Aviation Brigade

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A Combat aviation brigade (CAB) is a multi-functional brigade-sized unit in the United States Army that fields military helicopters, offering a combination of attack/reconnaissance helicopters (Boeing AH-64 Apache), medium-lift helicopters (Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk), heavy-lift helicopters (Boeing CH-47 Chinook), and MEDEVAC capability.


Combat aviation brigades (CABs) were introduced during the transformation of the United States Army to a modular force. There were three types of combat aviation brigades.

Heavy Combat Aviation Brigade Organizational Table

Heavy combat aviation brigades

Medium combat aviation brigades

  • Attack reconnaissance battalion (ARB) (24 AH-64 Apache)
  • Reconnaissance squadrons (ARS) (30 OH-58)
  • Assault helicopter battalion (AHB) (30 UH-60 Black Hawk)
  • General support aviation battalion (GSAB) (8 UH-60 Command Aviation, 12 CH-47 Chinook and 15 HH-60M)
  • UAV company[1]
  • Aviation support battalion (ASB)

Light combat aviation brigades

  • Two Reconnaissance squadrons (ARS) (each with 30 OH-58)
  • Assault helicopter battalion (AHB) (30 UH-60 Black Hawk)
  • General support aviation battalion (GSAB) (8 UH-60 Command Aviation, 12 CH-47 Chinook and 15 HH-60M)
  • UAV company[1]
  • Aviation support battalion (ASB)

Full spectrum capabilityEdit

Full spectrum combat aviation brigade organizational table

Starting in 2010, the Army began to replace the medium and light CABs with multipurpose brigades, called "full spectrum CABs". The ultimate goal is eight full spectrum CABs and four heavy CABs in active service, and respectively six and two CABs in the Army National Guard. Four brigades must be deployment-ready on a permanent basis.

The Army stated that they need the CAB to be modular designed to enable task organization and optimize aviation capability for specific mission of specified duration. Full spectrum CAB will standardize the CAB design across the branch to deliver maximum aviation capability in the most timely and flexible manner. The Army also said that the new CAB design is doctrinally sound which delivers the combat, combat support, and combat service support to "enable steady state" operations required in an era of persistent conflict, and this new CAB will be constructed to deliver combat power while maximizing efficiencies in training, maintenance and support across the Army.[2][3]

Full spectrum combat aviation brigades design includes:

  • Headquarters and headquarters company (HHC)
  • Attack reconnaissance squadron (ARS) (three troops with 7 OH-58D Kiowa Warrior each, and a UAS company with two platoons with 4 AAI RQ-7B Shadow UAV each)
  • Attack reconnaissance battalion (ARB) (three companies with 8 AH-64 Apache each)
  • Assault helicopter battalion (AHB) (three companies with 10 UH-60 Black Hawk each, and a pathfinder company)
  • General support aviation battalion (GSAB) (a command aviation company or CAC with 4 UH-60 Black Hawk and 4 EH-60 equipped with AN/ASC-38 Army Airborne Command and Control System [A2C2S], a heavy helicopter company (HvyHC) with three platoons with 4 CH-47 Chinook each, an air ambulance medical company (AAMC) with five forward support MEDEVAC platoons (FSMP) with 3 HH-60M each equipped with MEDEVAC mission equipment, and an air traffic services (ATS) company consisting of a two tactical tower control teams, a mobile tower team, an airspace control flight following team and a local surveillance and ground controlled approach (GCA) radar team)
  • UAS company (three platoons with 4 General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV each)
  • Aviation support battalion (ASB)

Active componentEdit

With the retirement of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters in 2017 the army concentrated all AH-64E Apache attack helicopters in the active CABs, which now are all Heavy. As of 2018 each CAB fields:

  • 1x Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC)
  • 1x Air Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (ACRS) (24 × AH-64E Apache and 12 × RQ-7 Shadow)
  • 1x Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB) (24 × AH-64E Apache)
  • 1x Assault Helicopter Battalion (AHB) (30 × UH-60 Black Hawk)
  • 1x General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB) (8 × UH-60 Command Aviation, 12 × CH-47F Chinook, 12 × HH-60M and ATS)
  • 1x UAS Company (12 x MQ-1C)
  • 1x Aviation Support Battalion (ASB)

Divisional CABsEdit

Separate CABsEdit

Former CABsEdit

Reserve componentEdit

The Army National Guard (ARNG) fields eight combat aviation brigades within its eight divisions as well as one theater aviation command which oversees two additional aviation brigades. The Army Reserve fields one theater aviation command which oversees two brigades (one USAR and one ARNG). The Army National Guard brigade is different from the Army's full spectrum combat aviation brigade as it replaces the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior of attack reconnaissance squadron with the Eurocopter UH-72 Lakota and organized into support and security battalion (S&S BN). Thus all ARNG aviation brigades consist of attack reconnaissance battalion (24 AH-64 Apache), security and support battalion (24 UH-72 Lakota), assault helicopter battalion (30 UH-60 Black Hawk), general support aviation battalion (8 UH-60, 12 CH-47 Chinook and 15 HH-60M), UAV company (12 MQ-1C Gray Eagle), and aviation support battalion.

Divisional CABsEdit

Separate CABsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c John Lheureux (May 16, 2019) Accomplishing the UAS mission safely
  2. ^ "Army Aviation: Full Spectrum Capability" (PDF). Army Aviation Association of America. 10 February 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  3. ^ "Role played by US army aviation in the US tactical maneuver" (PDF). Doctrine Tactique. March 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2013.

External linksEdit