"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," concluded Wannemüller.
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.
"Auf Wiedersehen"
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 at Work
Nations of SFOR: Germany

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Photos: Lt. Antonio Ruiz González

A German BO-105 helicopter can be seen taking off from the cockpit of a CH-53 G.


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Lt. Mario Kaspar (at front) and Lt. Alexander Stehl perform the appropriate pre-flight inspection of their BO-105.

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The huge German CH-53 G 'Stallion' was frequently used for transportation around the countryside of BiH.


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Maj. Frank Jochen Schafer, Medical Doctor (l.), and WO2 Hagen Dendzik check the equipment in the CH-53 G MEDEVAC configuration.