Rheine-Bentlage Air Base (German: Heeresflugplatz Rheine-Bentlage) (ICAO: ETHE) is located near the village of Bentlage, 2 km northwest of the city of Rheine, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
In 1939 works to build an air base for the Luftwaffe began. These works were completed in 1940. During World War II extensive use was made of the air base, particularly by night and day fighter squadrons. After the war the air base was abandoned.
In 1960, following the founding of the German Armed Forces in 1955 and the establishing of a new branch within the German Army, the Aviation Corps, completely new military installations, hangars and a small runway made of asphalt, were constructed on the grounds of the former German Air Force base.
Since 1960 various units of the German Army Aviation Corps have been stationed at Rheine Air Base. Initially, these units flew helicopters of the type Sikorsky H-34 which were used extensively during the relief operation following the disastrous North Sea flood of 1962. Another type of helicopter that was stationed in this period at Rheine Air Base was the Alouette II.
In 1974, the CH-53 replaced the by now obsolete Sikorsky H-34 and has been in service ever since. A small number of Bo 105VBH is also stationed at Rheine. In 1975, the air base was officially named Theodor Blank Barracks after the first Federal Minister of Defence of Germany.
Since then helicopters from Rheine saw action in as different places as Italy, Greece and the Pyrenees mainly by offering help and logistic support after natural disasters.
Since unification of Germany in 1990, units from Rheine were deployed in as various part as the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan under the auspices of either NATO, the UN or the EU.
All units stationed at Rheine Air Base were incorporated into Army Aviation Medium Transport Regiment 15 in 2003.
In 2004, after a further restructuring of the Bundeswehr, during which a large number of bases were closed, Army Aviation Medium Transport Regiment 15 was given the honorary name Münsterland, this being the result of the German Army's continuing commitment to the base at the time.
Army Aviation Medium Transport Regiment 15 was part of Airmobile Operations Division.
In October 2011 the German Federal Ministry of Defence announced a reorganisation/reduction of the German Armed Forces. As a consequence, Army Aviation Medium Transport Regiment 15 and all auxiliary units were formally disbanded on 31 December 2012. The remaining military personnel will be employed at the defence depot. The number of military personnel at the air base will be reduced by almost 94 per cent to 120. A number of helicopters stationed at Rheine Air Base were relocated to either Laupheim Air Base in Southern Germany or Holzdorf Air Base in Saxony-Anhalt where they were integrated into Helicopter Wing 64. The rest will be decommissioned.
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