Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Macedonia Fields Combat Helos
For the first time in its 18-year independent history, the Republic of Macedonia has deployed combat helicopters out of its borders for participation at the “Logical Decision 2010” multinational military exercise in Hungary. The deployment of Macedonian Air Force helicopters started Oct. 3 when two Mi-24V Hind-E and one Mi-17 Hip-H with 35 personnel left Petrovec AFB on their way to Papa AFB in Hungary where Logical Decision 2010 took place from October 4-15.
Apart from Macedonia, NATO members Hungary and Belgium also deployed aircraft at the event, while France, Poland, Austria and the UK were acting as observers. Macedonian Air Force participated with three Elbit Systems-upgraded helicopters: a pair of FLIR-equipped Mi-24Vs of the Combat Helicopter Squadron and a single Mi-17 of the Transport Helicopter Squadron. The Hungarian Air Force sent two NVG-equipped Mi-17Ns and one Mi-8T. Those Mi-17Ns received upgrades with NATO-compatible avionics and equipment in Russia during 2008.
Szolnok Helicopter Base also took part in the exercise with few Mi-24D/V-1/P gunships, though only in daylight conditions as Hungarian Hind fleet is short of night-vision capabilities.
The Belgian detachment was made up of five Agusta A109Bas (three in anti-tank and two in transport setup) and accompanying personnel of the Belgian Armed Forces’ Helicopter Wing of the Air Component. The first day of the event unexpectedly ended with real medevac mission for Hungarian detachment that was called to perform night-time evacuation of civilians from a toxic sludge catastrophe that happened at the Ajkai Timfoldgyar aluminum plant, which is located in a town 160 kilometers southwest of Budapest. It’s worth noting that in performing this urgent and demanding medevac mission, the Hungarian crews used night vision goggles and managed to evacuate 17 civilians from Kolontar to Budaors.