1,500 horse power :

Maintenance on the Airfield Prizren

Text: Dieter Ortmeyer jr. - Photos: Sgt. Ann Outzen

Beast's heart: Within only 30 minutes German soldiers are exchanging the engine of a Leopard 2, the Mercedes amongst the tanks.

Located just a few kilometres north of the town of Prizren, 112 men are doing a real tough job. They sweat day by day on the Prizren Airfield under the merciless sun of Kosovo. They are the soldiers from the Maintenance Company A.

With eagle eyes German KFOR soldiers are exchanging the sealing of a Leopard 2 engine.

When entering the military compound, the so-called airfield, one might be confused when not finding any planes there. Well, to keep the whole story short, the compound used to be an agricultural airfield once, and is now the temporary home for some 800 Germans.

Having a closer look, one can find there, amongst others, the 112 men of the 7th Company of the German Logistics Regiment KFOR or better known as the Maintenance Company A (InstKp A).

"It is our job to maintain the material such as tanks, cars, trucks and other equipment for the German Contingent. Occasionally, we also work together with our comrades from Austria and Switzerland, and on request check their equipment as well", says Deputy Commander, Capt. Mathias Theiss, also in charge of the technical co-ordination.

More than 10 hours a day the soldiers on the Airfield Prizren do their utmost despite the merciless sun over Kosovo.

Regular checks of the Leopard 2 tank
Amongst other things, in regular intervals the soldiers remove the engine from the Leopard 2 tank to exchange the sealing and then again install it. " It doesn't take us more than one hour", says Capt. Mathias Theiss with a smiling face.

"We have employed 13 civilians from the Prizren area working in all fields as electricians, saddlers or metalworkers and so on", he adds.

What makes the job sometimes difficult is the heat the Germans have to cope with when they are working 10 hours or more in the hangars or outside in the sun. "The vehicles parked in the sun get so hot that you cannot touch them with your bare hands. In the tanks, for example, you have 70-80 Centigrade. After 2 minutes inside you are sopping wet."