July 12, 2011 defpro.com
In an unusual and impromptu operation, one of the NZLAV vehicles in Bamyan province has provided assistance to a disabled US Army Apache helicopter.
The Apache experienced an engine problem on take off and had to land again. Inspection of the engine showed extensive damage caused by ingested debris.
The helicopter was in an exposed position on Bamyan airfield and the decision was made to tow it into the safety of Kiwi Base, home of the NZ Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZPRT).
Despite being on the wrong side of the perimeter wire and the ditch, the NZPRT workshop team manufactured a towbar and led the helicopter recovery team comprising US Army air and maintenance crews, NZPRT and US personnel.
The Apache had a very limited threshold for sideways tilt, requiring a lot of ground preparation and load spreading using sheets of plywood. SGT George Alexander from the NZPRT guided the NZLAV as it slowly pulled the eight tonne helicopter around a corner, across the ditch and up the hill into Kiwi base.
US maintenance Crew Chief, SGT Judy Beltowski, 10th Mountain Division, US Army, praised the ingenuity and quick action of the NZPRT personnel.
“I’ve never seen that level of craftsmanship from a maintenance team anywhere. Whatever we needed the NZPRT provided, and if they didn’t have it, they made it.”
It took two days to make the repairs and the Apache, from 101st Airborne Division, returned to its home base on 22 June.