How great it is flying together
Capt. Juan Manuel Gracia Casado
WO2 Edoardo Baffigo
First published May 16, 2003
From April 28th to May 1st, the Operational Rehearsal
Paladin II/2003 was held. As usual in this type of rehearsals,
helicopters are commonly employed. But this time Multinational
Brigade Southeast (MNB-SE) used other assets than its own.
One US AH-64 'Apache', one US UH-60 'Blackhawk' and one Canadian
Bell 412 were deployed to Mostar Ortijes' tarmac.
Mostar - Of course, apart from those guest stars, the Spanish
AS332 'Superpuma' and the forever young Italian UH-1H 'Huey'
How great it is
Nobody but the crew knows how great it is to "fly together."
From the pilot's point of view the mission is over when you
are starting the engines. It is usually said, "everything
you prepare in the ground won't be suffered in the air."
It is especially true for this special occasion, when different
helicopters from different countries work successfully together.
In such a realistic training environment, briefings were of
utmost importance. The Spanish French Battle Group had to
co-ordinate time schedules and location, and common frequencies
to establish the necessary radio links. The machines also
needed refuelling, sometimes at night.
The overall mission was mainly divided into two parts: Italian
and Canadian units were in charge of conducting stand-alone
missions, while US and Spanish had to perform an air re-deployment
of the Italian Reserve Unit. Little time was available, but
the professionalism and ability of the crews allowed them
to familiarise and adopt common procedures. Among several
topics were weather forecasts, routes planning and close examination
of hazards and obstacles along the flying path.
Success and good results
"And it was exciting, too!" said 1Lt. Pedro Canovas,
a pilot from the Spanish helicopters Detachment. "We
were ordered to do this operation side by side with the American
helicopters, and it was quite a good opportunity to share
experience and flying techniques."
The operation started with providing security for ground units
moving through the Trebinje area by providing cover. Then
Cougar and Blackhawk started to train and learn how to safely
and rapidly embark and disembark. At night, the Canadian AB412
provided information about the area thanks to its night vision
A border recce over the so called orange zone, performed by
US flights, was the final act of this multinational helicopter
unit that will surely be remembered for its success and good
Nations of SFOR: Spain,