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Helicopters on Highways

Background
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Since the end of 2010, the mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the auspices of EUFOR has been partially transformed into a training mission. As a result of this increased mandate, a number of Mobile Training Teams (MTTs) have been established. One of these teams is the Military Movement Control (MMC), whose task is to train and prepare future officers/instructors from the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AF BiH) in transportation of military equipment within a designated area.
The training is led by the Polish Officers - Lt Col Mariusz Pasieka and Captain Piotr Ciećko from the National Movement Coordination Centre (NMCC) in Warsaw. This training has been ongoing for more than 10 months to date, focusing on all aspects of movement and transportation.

Training in Practice
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This training was put into practical use in July of this year when eight Mi-8T helicopters from the BiH Air Force needed to be moved 17km from Zaluznai to Mahovljani in the Banja Luka region. Normally such a short distance for helicopters would take a matter of minutes however these helicopters where unserviceable and had to be moved by road.
After careful assessment of the route it was decided the helicopters could be towed by trucks on their own undercarriage. However the route presented sixteen major areas of concern, including flyovers, tunnels and severe bends in the road. The most difficult obstacle was the flyover at Laktaši, where the clearance between the helicopters and the flyover was as low as 5cm in places. The tunnels also proved to be extremely challenging as there where ceiling ventilators protruding in various positions. Additionally towing helicopters this distance meant the wheels, tyres and brakes had to be constantly monitored for increased temperature and wear.
Given the complexity of the task only two helicopters could be moved in a single convoy and the roads had to be closed to all other traffic resulting in the moves taking place between 0030 and 0530. The convoy also included a crane, ambulance and support vehicles with spare parts in case of any emergency.
The movement Commander for the operation was Major Milan Damjanić from the MCC of AFBiH, Doboj and he was supported by Lt Col Mariusz Pasieka. Having completed all four moves without incident the training delivered by EUFOR personnel has proven to be effective and the team can be rightly proud of their achievements
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