MISSION OVER BOSNIA:
Spring 1995: First preparations were made for deploying
a contingent to Italy. Tactical Recce was requested by UNPROFOR.
The leadership of the TRW tried to hush with the words:”…for
now everything is business as usual, let’s drink a beer and wait
what next week might bring.” But the 512 prepared as well.
In summer things came true as predicted and as prepared. The TRW 51 “I”
deployed with six Tornados to Piacenza in Italy.
The former commodore colonel Eckard Sowada poured oil on troubled water
by promising: “You ‘re all back home by Christmas.”
But it became Christmas 2001 until his promise came true, but more about
that later on. In the beginning of UNPROFOR all flyers from Jagel were
highly motivated, but they were not allowed to take off. Bosnia was reconnoitred
by the Americans with their drones (UAV’s) at that time, and the
Recces were not allowed to fly over Italy either. Some ECR-guys from Lechfeld
started to call for a reason, why the recces were in Italy, they seemed
to be more or less useless at that time. But when the first training flights
over Italy were granted the morale of the recce-troops became excellent.
As the situation over Bosnia suddenly tapered and the Americans lost two
Predators (UAV’s) in short sequence, the Recces from Jagel attracted
They were sent to the operational area and they made excellent pictures.
Crews of the 512 had their share. The unit rep of the 51 TRW in the CAOC
in Vicenza was most popular and the pictures were in demand. 30th of August
1995 a French Mirage was shot down over Bosnia and the crew was reported
missing since then. The Serbs pretended not to know anything about the
Mirage-pilots. When LTC Jürgen Artis, squadron commander of the 512,
was on a mission over Bosnia and started a turn, his WSO made some opportunity
shots with the cameras. They covered a forest area close to the border
A soldier of the exploitation team of the TRW 51”I” who evaluated
the film until late night discovered an unusual point in that forest area.
By closer examination it turned out to be the hiding-place of the French
aircrew. Negotiations were opened and the aircrew could be redeemed of
Serbian captivity. In the following years 1996 until 1998 the situation
on the Balkan eased. The Dayton peace treaty was to be supervised by the
North-German Recces. Piacenza was routine for the squadron members. Two
or three times per year, sometimes even more often, the squadron members
were detached to Piacenza, flew there and enjoyed the outstanding hospitality
of the Italian people.