"Auf Wiedersehen" to German wings
Lt. Antonio Ruiz González
First published in
SFOR Informer#150, October 24, 2002
The Multinational Army Aviation Battalion (MNAAvBn) in
Multinational Division Southeast (MND-SE) has a large detachment
in Rajlovac, near Sarajevo, made up of a diverse mix of forces
and equipment. The French 'Gazelles', the Italian 'Hueys'
and the two different types of aircraft the Germans use within
the theatre operate from Rajlovac.
Rajlovac - The German detachment, named in their language
Gem. HFlg. Stff SFOR (SFOR Mixed Army Aviation Squadron) has
been flying over this country's skies since Feb. 1, 1997.
In the beginning, they also flew UH-1Ds, but today theiy use
German made BO-105 and the Sikorsky CH-53 G.
German rotary wings
The unit is 100 people strong and uses three CH-53 G and four
BO-105. They also have the only large scale casualty carrying
helicopter, a CH-53 G, that is able to transport six seriously
injured people who are in an intensive care status and six
additional personnel with less serious injuries.
Maj. Hans-Georg Hammes is the squadron commander in Rajlovac.
"Our mission is to transport passengers and equipment
as required by the chain of command of the MNAAvBn. Once the
battalion receive the request from Multinational Division
South-East Headquarters, they decide which type of helicopter
is needed for the task," he explained.
The squadron is made up of several platoons or teams, such
as Op-centre, meteorological team, refuelling lorries, firefighters,
the tactical flight information service (TAFIS), a technical
or maintenance platoon and the crews themselves.
David and Goliath
The two different types of helicopters they fly compare to
David and Goliath. The BO-105 that used for liaison purposes
is small, light, fast, and capable of flying anywhere day
or night. It seemed to be David. It was tiny compared to the
Goliath, the large CH-53 G, that was able to transport up
to 25 people. It could also transport 6 tons and carry the
same amount externally when using the cargo hook.
"Last year we transported 6,000 passengers and we will
reach almost the same number at the end of the tour,"
said Maj. Rolf Wannemüller, squadron deputy commander.
"Some of our pilots have a vast amount of experience,
more than 5,000 flying hours. They are trained to fly over
mountainous terrain and also have night vision capability,"
As CH-53 helicopter pilot 1Lt. Hendrik Krahl said: "We
have flown a variety of missions, such as transporting containers
hanging out the helo for humanitarian aid to remote places.
I have flown a lot around the country, this is my forth tour."
For 1Lt. Raphael Reish a pilot who flies the BO-105: "It
is the first mission abroad for this type of helicopter. We
could only transport a maximum of three people, but on the
other hand we could fly towards anywhere, carrying out tasks
of reconnaissance, observation or liaison," he explained.
From now on, German helicopters will be used in Afghanistan
or Kosovo. We bid 'Auf Wiedersehen' or, good bye. But some
of them will be very near, only a few hours away in Kosovo.
They will be able to fly back to BiH in case they are needed.
It has been a mission of nearly five years, flying all around
the country and gathering nearly 14,000 flying hours. Thank
you for the job you performed, good luck on your upcoming
tasks and 'Auf Wiedersehen' chaps.
Related links: SFOR
Nations of SFOR: Germany