The Escuadrón de Zapadores Paracaidistas (EZAPAC), or Parachute Sapper Squadron, is a special operations unit within the Spanish Air and Space Force. Known as “Zapas,” this elite unit is trained for air special operations, including special air operations, combat rescue, and search and rescue missions. It has been involved in various international campaigns and conflicts, with its history dating back to 1946. The unit is symbolized by a distinct coat of arms and motto, with an organized structure that consists of three primary squadrons: Special Forces Squadron, Operational Support Squadron, and Training Squadron.
- Formation and History: The EZAPAC has its origins in 1946 with the formation of airborne units. Over the years, it transformed into the current special operations unit and underwent various name changes and restructures, including its recent transition into the Parachute Sapper Squadron in 2002.
- Missions and Deployments: The unit has been engaged in a range of operations, including combat in the Ifni War, evacuation missions in Spanish Sahara, flood rescue efforts, international missions in places like Namibia, Bosnia, and Afghanistan, and ongoing training and support in Iraq and the Sahel region.
- Symbols and Identity: The coat of arms for the EZAPAC features a dagger superimposed on wings, indicating its status as a special forces air unit, with a parachute in the background. The motto “Sólo merece vivir quién por un noble ideal está dispuesto a morir” (Only those who are willing to die for a noble ideal deserve to live) encapsulates the unit’s philosophy.
- Structure and Organization: The EZAPAC is organized into three main squadrons: the Special Forces Squadron (SOATU-ALI 1 to 6), in charge of special air operations; the Operational Support Squadron, which includes various logistical sections; and the Training Squadron (SOATU-ALI 7).
- International Equivalents: The EZAPAC has international counterparts such as Denmark’s Specialoperationskommandoen and Ireland’s Army Ranger Wing, showcasing its role and recognition as part of a global network of special operations forces.