In Italy the risk of air raids from the countries of the Warsaw Pact was interested in the geographical north-eastern sector, ie the regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Friuli. The defense area were for low and medium altitudes the Hawk missile batteries, operated by the Army, and for medium and high altitudes to the Nike missile system, which is managed by the Air Force.
Both systems concurred in the formation of SAM and SAM RESTRICTED ZONE AREA. The system officially entered service on 1 March 1959 when it was founded at the airport in Padua the 1st Air Brigade IT (Guided interceptors) which employs initially there were three groups and twelve squadrons equipped with Nike-Ajax missiles.
The 1st Air Brigade inherited the coat of arms of the 1st Fighter Wing, which is the archer with drawn bow, the arrow nocked. Symbolized the readiness and rapid response, both typical characteristics of fighter aircraft, and unmanned interceptors (missiles). With the adoption of more powerful Nike-Hercules missile and the consequent introduction into some basics of nuclear warheads, the maximum configuration of the 1st Air Brigade foresaw three departments with four IT Groups each.
The twelve Groups in north-eastern Italy
16° Reparto I.T. Treviso
56° Gruppo I.T. di Ca’ Tron (VE)
57° di Ceggia (VE)
58° di Cordovado (PN)
59° di Vittorio Veneto-Monte Pizzoc (TV)
7° Reparto I.T. di Vicenza
64° Bassano del Grappa-Monte Grappa (VI)
65° di Montichiari
66° di Tonezza del Cimone-Monte Toraro (VI)
67° di Monte Calvarina (VR)
17° Reparto I.T. di Padova
72° di Bovolone (VR)
79° di Zelo (RO)
80° di Bagnoli di Sopra (PD)
81° di Chioggia (VE)
The configuration of the 1st Air Brigade changed over the years as a result of organic restructuring which led to a progressive reduction in the number of Departments (later called Flocks) and Groups. The Nike-Hercules was one of the oldest weapon systems supplied to the Armed Forces. The latest launch that marked the farewell to the system dates back to 24 November 2006: at 17:54 on the last missile Hercules (Serial Number 16496) was launched by PISQ (Polygon Interforze of Salto di Quirra) in Sardinia. The 1st Air Brigade finally ceased management system Nike 1 July 2007.