China airforce's Y8 getting ready for their next mission at the air base.
THE Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Subang recently resembled a mini United Nations as it became a crucial centre for military flight operations involving foreign Air Force assets in search of flight MH370.
Base commander Brigadier General Abdul Manaf Md Zaid said the Subang airbase was ready round the clock to handle all missions assigned to it.
“Representatives of the air forces and their respective embassies briefed us on their requirements which range from providing administrative rooms to fuel and aircraft maintenance support,” Abdul Manaf said.
With 13 foreign aircraft at the base, providing logistics support for them is no easy task.
However, Abdul Manaf said it was a learning experience to integrate the operations of various planes from various air forces in the base.
“Our men are in high morale despite any setbacks and, with a mission to perform, we work round the clock to ensure there is no interference for the planes to fly their missions,” he said.
From the air traffic controllers and air marshalls to the engineers and logistics support team, they work in a seamless operation, ensuring that all the needs of the crews are met, from fuel to flight rations.
With the support on the ground, the air crews were able to to carry out their missions to their assigned sectors, which could take up to 12 hours including flying time to and from the Indian Ocean.
The base was on alert from March 8 when news of the missing Flight MH370 came out and it “received” its first guest from the United States on March 9.
“To ensure the foreign air force crews are well taken care of, two air force liaison officers have been assigned to take care of each foreign team,” Abdul Manaf said.
Various squadrons were involved in ensuring base operations ran smoothly with the huge number of aircraft involved.
Some of them included the logistics and administrative squadron, the provost for security, engineering and the air operations squadron.
On top of providing support to the foreign air forces, they also had to provide support for a few local flying squadrons.
Describing the airbase as “almost fully occupied”, he said the personnel had to ensure that every space was fully optimised. This included moving the planes from time to time to ensure that all planes had ample space to move and carry out the required maintenance activities.
“Safety is of the utmost importance and we run on a shift system to ensure everyone is able to complete their designated tasks,” he said.
As of now, Abdul Manaf said he left it to the squadron commanders to handle their manpower planning to ensure that the personnel have their required leave and their training needs are met.
Concluding the interview, he said: “Everyone in this airbase has MH370 on their mind and is committed to mobilise all the strength needed to achieve the mission.”
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