Coalition service members flew to Patrol Base Taalanda to improve the helicopter landing zone recently.
The improved landing zone will reduce brown out conditions created by helicopter rotor wash. It will also make the area more discernable from its surroundings and level the landing zone, which was an unconstructed, secured area attached to the patrol base.
Because of the isolation of this patrol base, the British soldiers stationed here rely on the helicopters to bring in supplies and take casualties out if needed, explained British Lt. Steven Howden, the commander for Patrol Base Taalanda.
“We’ve had a problem in the past with helicopters not being able to land because of various reasons, one being they couldn’t identify the [landing zone],” said Howden. “So it was important to install a more permanent [landing zone] for them to determine where to land.”
Helicopter landing zone construction, like that at Patrol Base Taalanda, is taking place throughout Helmand and Nimroz provinces. The overall purpose for constructing these landing zones is to improve sortie generation and so pilots can land safely, explained Marine Maj. Joe M. Lopez, an operations officer serving in Helmand province.
Most zones take from three to five days to complete, depending on the size and type of material used for the zone, added Lopez.
At Patrol Base Taalanda, it took approximately six hours to level the ground and lay the material. The zone needed to be big enough for a CH-47 Chinook, the largest helicopter that will land there.
To improve this location, the ground had to leveled first, then mobi and heli mat were laid out, explained Sgt. Vincenzo Polistena, an expeditionary airfield specialist. Mobi-mat is a hard, woven polyester and heli mat is a dust cover, which reduces debris kicked up by helicopter rotor wash.
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