Friday, June 20, 2008
EU Helicopter 'Crashes' In Bosnia
From Trend News -
Bosnia air crash kills four EU peacekeepers
A Spanish helicopter on a European Union peacekeeping flight crashed Thursday in the hills of central Bosnia, killing all four soldiers aboard, military officials said, reported dpa.
The dead were two Spanish pilots and two German military officers, the Spanish Defence Ministry said in Madrid. They were on a transport flight in the Banja Luka region around noon when the craft went down for unknown reasons, the statement said.
The BO-105 chopper took off from Sarajevo and crashed in a heavily wooded, hard-to-reach area after sending a mayday call, European Union Force (EUFOR) headquarters said in Sarajevo. The crew of a second helicopter saw smoke rising from the crash site.
The cause of the crash was under investigation, officials said.
Spain has the largest EUFOR contingent, some 350 of the nearly 2,200 troops serving in the 31-nation force.
Germany has about 120 soldiers in EUFOR, launched by the European Union in 2004 to take over from NATO peacekeepers.
The BO-105 is a light helicopter developed by Germany's Messerschmitt-Boelkow-Blohm, now part of Eurocopter, a unit of Europe's EADS defence and space company.
If a helicopter crashes and it is reported on the news, normally the story doesn't make anyone bat an eyelid. But two days after the UN has decided to pass control of Kosovo over to the EU, without consulting with Russia or any other countries that oppose such a move, and an EU helicopter crashes in unexplained circumstances, it does tend to draw the attention.
I am not saying that this crash is necessarily suspicious, but we have learned by hearing reports of 'crashes' of aircraft in other trouble spots around the globe, to become cautious. This is the Balkans, and tensions are running high. The crash happened quickly if there was only time for a Mayday.
The BBC report on the same incident (HERE) includes -
Bosnia-Hercegovina was divided into Bosnian-Muslim-Croat and Bosnian Serb autonomous regions under the accords which ended the Bosnian war in 1995 - yet the BBC fails to say which sector of the divided country the helicopter crashed in, or give any details as to the location of the crash.
The crash can only exacerbate the EU's helicopter crisis. This May 2008 Press Release from Brussels gives the picture.
EU Defence Ministers Pledge to Address Helicopter Shortages for Crisis Operations
Brussels, 26 May 2008, Press Release
European defence ministers today issued a declaration of their determination to improve the operational availability of helicopters, noting that shortfalls in helicopter availability constrained EU and other international crisis management operations.
A ministerial meeting of the Steering Board of the European Defence Agency noted that important work was underway in the Agency to mitigate the problem of helicopter availability through initiatives such as enhanced crew training, fleet technical upgrades and logistic improvements, but more needed to be done.
“We all know that helicopters are a key military enabler, which can often make the difference in the success or failure of crisis management missions,” said Head of the Agency Javier Solana, who chaired the meeting.
“Despite large numbers in European inventories, there remains a shortage of helicopters that can actually be deployed on operations. This is true in all operations theatres.” he added.
Picture - Head of The EU's Defence Agency Javier Solana, biting his tongue on a different occasion. And below a BO - 105.
UPDATE - www.balkaninsight.com report -
EUFOR said the accident happened in a remote area of central Bosnia.
Local media report the chopper went down in the Kotor Varos area of Bosnia’s smaller entity of Republika Srpska.
“A strong EUFOR presence is visible around the place where the accident happened and they are not letting anybody come close,” said Nedzib Smajlovic of the police in Zenica, Central Bosnia told local media.