Airborne Support

Lt. Pedro Fernández Vicente
First published in
SFOR Informer#135, March 28, 2002

A Spanish Cougar helicopter, belonging to MNAAvBn (Multi National Army Aviation Battalion) in Ploce, carries out the replacement mission of signal teams on an isolated mountain top. Weekly a helicopter flies over Leotar, Paric, Cucovac and the Udrich Mountain, providing the necessary support so that the signallers can perform their jobs.

Ploce - Due to the rough terrain and the climate in its Area of Responsibility, Multinational division Southeast (MND-SE) divided its MNAAvBn into two detachments, in order to maintain its support capability. One of these units is located in Ploce (Croatia), with French and Spanish, and the other one in Rajlovac, with French, German and Italian.
Airborne Support
"Our job here is to provide airborne mobility to MND-SE soldiers. We have to work with contingents of different nationalities and use different procedures, which makes our job extremely interesting and attractive," said Maj. Miguel Aparicio Gonzalez, Chief of the Spanish Helicopter Detachment.
"This mission is especially rewarding because in a few hours you do work that would otherwise take days. And you can read the gratitude on the faces of the soldiers you pick up after being isolated on the peak for a week. This task is very important especially as the weather conditions worsen. This is a good challenge for a pilot," said 1st Lt. Alberto Padilla Fraile, Aircraft Commander.
Life at the top of the mountain
"Our mission here is the maintenance of Leotar Signal Technical Centre. In order to perform this task we post a team of two persons for a week. There are three women in my platoon. Sometimes the team is gender mixed. Due to the strong winds, the main problem here is the antennas which we have to change periodically," commented 1st Lt. José Antonio Lechuga Faez, leader of the signal platoon.
"The worst moment is the changing of the team. All has to be ready before the helicopter's arrival. We have to unload and load as quickly as we can because the helicopter doesn't cut the engine. We can organize our life here as we want, but the most important thing is that the signal equipment runs properly," said Pvt. Maria Amparo Aliaga Sistiaga.
"We come to Leotar every month and a half. We like to spend this week here because our job inside the Main Signal Centre is a bit monotonous. And here on the peak you have a lot of time. You have time to work, to study, to read, to play PC games and watch videos. If you need to take some fresh air you have only to go out of the Corimec. Contrary to what some may say, it is a good time for us to be here," concluded Pfc. Juan Cavera Cabral.

Related links:
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Photo: Lt. Pedro Fernandez Vicente

The helicopter must be unloaded and loaded as quickly as possible.


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Photo: Lt. Pedro Fernandez Vicente

The Aviation Detachment in Ploce has important aerial traffic.


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Photo: Photo: Lt. Eric Bouysson

The arrival of the aircraft marks a new period of work.


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Photo: Photo: Lt. Eric Bouysson

Everything has to be ready before the helicopter's arrival.