Military Wiki
EKO Cobra
Patch of EKO Cobra
Active 1978–present
Country Austria.
Branch Federal Ministry for the Interior
Type Special Forces
Role Domestic Law Enforcement and Counter-Terrorism
Size 450 operatives
Garrison/HQ Wiener Neustadt, Austria
Nickname(s) As Gendarmerieeinsatzkommando: GEK
As Einsatzkommando Cobra: EKO

EKO Cobra (Einsatzkommando Cobra) is Austria's primary counter-terrorism special operations tactical unit. It is not part of the Austrian Federal Police but is directly under the control of the Austrian Federal Ministry for the Interior.


Two members of EKO Cobra in operational loadout.

The Einsatzkommando Cobra, formerly known as GEK (Gendarmerieeinsatzkommando) was formed in 1978, primarily as a response to the attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Its main office is in Wiener Neustadt, with sub-offices in Graz and Linz and Innsbruck.

The Federal Ministry of Interior changed the unit's name from GEK to EKO Cobra in 2002.

The 450 men of EKO Cobra have trained with some[which?] of the most elite special forces units.

Known Operations

The EKO Cobra was involved in a hostage rescue in the Graz-Karlau Prison in 1996 and numerous other operations. Although it has never participated in the same type of hostage rescue operations that the HRT, GIGN, GIS, NSG, GSG 9 and the SAS have had, the EKO Cobra is the only[citation needed] Counter-Terrorism unit to end a hijacking while the plane was still in the air. On 17 October 1996, four Cobra officers were on board an Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-154 escorting deported prisoners to Lagos when a Nigerian man threatened the cockpit crew with a knife and demanded a diversion to Germany or South Africa. The team overpowered the man and handed him over to the authorities after landing. The officers received a decoration by Russian prime minister Putin.

135 EKO Cobra operatives were involved in the search for Alois Huber, who killed three police officers and one Red Cross paramedic on September 17, 2013, in Lower Austria.[1]

Recruitment and training

Any member of the Austrian Federal Police may apply for the EKO Cobra. The tests consist of medical examinations, psychological tests and vigorous physical tests. Upon successful completion of the tests the recruits attend 6 months of specialized training which includes marksmanship, tactical training, sports, driver courses, abseiling/rappelling, hand-to-hand combat, language classes, etc. Besides the courses taught in the basic training, further specialization is possible in fields, such as parachuting, diving, explosives or sniping.[2]

Since its establishment in 1978, 1,140 officers have served in EKO Cobra.[3]


Locations of the EKO Cobra in Austria.

The unit's headquarters is located in Wiener Neustadt (Lower Austria). It performs all administrative activities and the training for the EKO Cobra officers. Further departments exist in Vienna, Graz, Linz and Innsbruck with small field offices in Klagenfurt, Salzburg and Feldkirch. Each department contains four teams and each field office contains two. This structure allows the units to be deployed anywhere in Austria in less than 70 minutes.[4]



An officer of the Austrian counter-terrorism unit EKO Cobra handling a Steyr AUG rifle during an airborne operation (the aircraft is a Bell 206B Jet Ranger).

EKO Cobra is armed mainly with Austrian weaponry, but sometimes foreign-produced arms are used too. They are equipped with many Steyr-manufactured weapons, such as the Steyr AUG (military designation: StG 77) assault rifle, the sniper rifle Steyr SSG 69 including its sound-suppressed variant and the 9mm Steyr TMP machine pistol. Glock pistols are used as sidearms, the most common being the Glock 17 and Glock 19 semi-automatic 9×19mm Parabellum pistol along with the Glock 18 with full-auto capability.

Other types of weapons, like the Manurhin MR 73 revolvers, the Franchi SPAS-12, Remington 870 and Heckler & Koch M512 shotguns, the MP5A3 or Heckler & Koch MP7 sub-machine guns or the MZP-1 40 mm grenade launcher are also used depending on the situation.

Special equipment

EKO Cobra use a variety of equipment designed for a variety of situations.

  • Protective gear made of kevlar or ceramic
  • Balaclavas
  • Camouflage suits
  • Tonfa batons
  • OC sprays


EKO Cobra officers wear the uniform of the Austrian Federal Police with certain modifications:

  • Maroon beret to indicate their elite status
  • The unit's insignia is worn instead of the police insignia
  • The rank insignia's background is black instead of red as from the regular Federal Police uniforms

During tactical operations the officers wear grey or black coveralls along with their tactical gear.


Austria's capital city, Vienna, has its own counter-terrorist SWAT team. Known as "WEGA," it is trained to similar standards and is capable of handling serious situations such as hostage taking.

See also

  • List of special police units


External links

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