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The UK AAC Det moves to Sarajevo

By 1Lt. Javier Donesteve
First published in
SFOR Informer#105, January 24, 2001

Sarajevo- The Army Air Corps (AAC) is the branch of the British Army in charge of giving, along with the Royal Air Force, aviation support to land operations. For this, it counts on six Regiments and some independent Squadrons, equipped with different types of helicopters.
The contribution of the AAC to SFOR was the ‘UK Helicopter Force’, based in Divulje Barracks, Split. But, since a Dutch Unit has taken took there, only a small Detachment of two Lynx Mk 9 helicopters and thirty men remains in Bosnia, most of them from 661 Squadron, 1 Regiment AAC, based in Gutersloh, Germany.
"Our primary role is supporting DCOMOPS (Deputy Commander for Operations, the Senior British Officer, currently Maj. Gen. Richard Dannatt)" says Capt. Gordon Best, Officer Commanding, UK Lynx Det. "For that reason we moved to Sarajevo. It saves time and money. And, as it was not possible to move to Butmir, the Airport was the nearest point".
"The move was a a major effort for such a small unit like ours. With only the support of vehicles, we did the rest. We brought everything, from the Rubb Hangar to the smallest tool. And meanwhile, we have been operational, what means having at least one aircraft ready for flight" stressed Best. "An added difficulty was that the allocated area in Sarajevo Airport was mined"
"The Lynx has a crew of three, two pilots and the door gunner" says Warrant Officer 2 Steve Gerhold, Squadron Sergeant Major. "We've got five pilots, Captain, WO1 and three Sergeants, and about 18 other AAC posts, and 12 REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) guys".
REME Staff Sergeant Gordon McBain is holding a meeting with his deputy Sergeant Jonathan Dobbin, and Sergeant Russell Mills, Crew Chief. "We've got nine technicians in our team. Among them, two female Craftsmen. And, of course, they do their job as well as the rest," said McBain. The Craftsmen are working on a Lynx.
"There are many items to be checked,", said Mills. “Some items every three hours of flying, others every ten, twenty five or fifty. Everything must be written in the Aircraft Log Book".
The Air Troopers are pushing a five ton aircraft out of the hangar. A training flight is going to take place. Warrant Officer 1 Mark Curry, a Qualified Helicopter Instructor, is the Captain. It is raining.
"Rain is not a problem for us. Fog and ice could be, but rain is not". Meanwhile the engine warms up, WO1 Curry asks for permission to take off, and the door gunner gives a last look at his equipment. A few minutes later, the aircraft takes off, followed by the careful eyes of the ground crew. Just another working day.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: UK