Suriname Air Force

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The Suriname Air Force or Surinam Air Force (SAF) in Dutch called the Surinaamse Luchtmacht (LUMA) is the air component of the National Army of Suriname (Surinaams Nationaal Leger - SNL)

Surinaamse Luchtmacht (LUMA)
Coat of arms of Suriname.svg
Suriname Coat of Arms
Active 1982
Country Suriname
Branch Air Force
Role No. 1 Squadron
(Transport & Patrol Unit)
No. 2 Squadron
(Helicopter Wing Unit)
No. 3 Squadron
(Parachute Airborne Tactical Unit (PATU))
Fire Unit
Size Three squadrons
Part of Military of Suriname
Garrison/HQ Zorg en Hoop Air Force Base
Nickname(s) LUMA
Motto Veni Vidi Vici
Commanders
Current
commander
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kartodikromo is the Commander of the Air Force
Notable
commanders
Major Eddie Djoe, was the first Surinamese with fighter pilot's license on PC-7 and first Air Force Commander of Suriname and Captain John-Marc Arron is the Commander of the new Helicopter Wing
Insignia
Roundel
Roundel of the Suriname Air Force
Suriname Air Force
SAF Hangar at Zorg en Hoop with Chetak helicopters

History

Upon independence in 1975, the Military of Suriname was turned into the Surinaamse Krijgsmacht (SKM):, Surinamese Armed Forces. On February 25, 1980, a group of 16 junior SKM officers overthrew the Government. Subsequently the SKM was rebranded as Nationaal Leger (NL), National Army.

One of 4 delivered Britten-Norman BN-2A Islander of Suriname

In 1982 a small air arm was formed within the Suriname defense force called "Surinaamse Luchtmacht" in short also called LUMA. The first military aircraft of the young air force was a Hughes 500 - Model 369D helicopter, simply registered SAF-100 and being used for light observation tasks. Unfortunately the aircraft was written off in March 1982 killing all four occupants,[1] but from May of the same year the Suriname Air Force was being equipped with four (Pilatus) Britten Norman BN-2B Defenders. Registered with the numbers SAF-001, SAF-002, SAF-003 and SAF-004. Later on during the decade a Cessna 172 Skyhawk (SAF-007), a Cessna 206 (SAF-200) and in 1993 a Cessna T303 Crusader (SAF-008) was acquired. The first official Surinam Air Force Commander from 1983 until 1989 was air force pilot lieutenant Eddie Alenso Savalie Djoe. He was one of the passenger victims of the Surinam Airways Flight 764 accident in June 1989, by then he was already promoted to the rank of Major.

Expansion and activity against the Jungle Commando

All aircraft of the Surinam Air Force undertake border patrols, utility transport and SAR (Search & Rescue) missions from the main base at Paramaribo - Zorg en Hoop and are occasionally detached to Zanderij - Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport, Nieuw Nickerie - Major Fernandes Airfield, Albina Airstrip and Moengo Airstrip. In 1986 anti-government guerrilla activity from the Jungle Commando, headed by Ronnie Brunswijk prompted the government to acquire a pair of Aérospatiale SA.316B Alouette III (SAF-400 & SAF-500) helicopters from the Portuguese Air Force (Portuguese: Força Aérea Portuguesa), formerly registered FAP9350 & FAP9386. In the same year also three Pilatus PC-7's (SAF-111, SAF-112 & SAF-113) were ordered in Switzerland for COIN (Counter-Insurgency) missions. One of the Alouette's crashed and both delivered PC-7s were returned to Switzerland but one was later re-delivered. In 1987 a Bell 205 Iroquois (SAF-300) was acquired from Venezuela and used as a gunship for five years prior to sale to the US as N6594S in 1991. It made a crash in July 1987[2] due to a mechanical failure killing the American pilot Billy Pearson, seriously injuring the American mechanic and four other Surinamese crewmembers.[3] The helicopter was later repaired and back in action.

Lack of funding and spares hampered modernization

File:SAF212 CASA.jpg
SAF212 CASA 212-400 Aviocar
SAF-214 CASA 212-400MPA

Two CASA 212-400s Aviocar transports (SAF-212 & SAF-214) Garret AiResearch TPE331-10HR turbo-prop engined aircraft were delivered in 1999 during the presidency of Jules Wijdenbosch. One of these two Spanish built CASA 212-400's was a Maritime Patrol Aircraft version (SAF-214) which was modified for the maritime patrol role with a Bendix RDR-1500 surveillance radar.[4] These two aircraft were bought for patrol & transport duties, fishery protection along the sea border and anti narcotics government activities.[5] In 1999 Colonel Etienne Boerenveen, at that time Defence Chief of Staff of Suriname, received the keys to the aircraft from the Spanish San Pablo Plant Manager of EADS CASA, Mr. Rafael González-Ripoll, following the signing of a protocol.[6] Lack of spares and funding has however hampered maintenance and sometimes grounding much of the SAF fleet. In 2012 six experts from Venezuela made an assessment for the Suriname Air Force on the rehabilitation of the Casa 212 airplanes and now the Suriname Air Force has sold them to Fayard Enterprises in the USA.

A new start for the Air Force in 2015

HAL Chetaks SA-316B from the Suriname Air Force

Three single engined Indian HAL Chetak helicopters were ordered in 2009.[7] In a deal worth US$13.4 million with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [HAL], facilitated through a line of credit from India. The deal was previous rumoured to include the more modern twin engined HAL Dhruv helicopters, but this proved to be wrong.[8] [9] On 26 December 2012 ten technical personnel of the Suriname Air Force left to India to be trained to become certified helicopter mechanics.[10] In 2014 eight helicopter pilots from the Suriname Air Force were trained on operating the HAL Chetak helicopters in Bangalore, India.[11] In 2014 it was announced that Suriname's order for helicopters from India was in fact for HAL Chetak and not the HAL Dhruv even as the Chetak production line is planned to be shut down. So rumours aside by the end of January 2015 the three Indian Chetak helicopters were assembled and delivered in Suriname as SAF-H001 (c/n AH-350), SAF-H002 (c/n AH-351) & SAF-H003 (c/n AH-352).[12][13] These registrations later changed to SAF-153, SAF-303 and SAF-811 when operational training started. The plan is to have one helicopter each based at the city of Paramaribo (Zorg en Hoop Airport), Nickerie (Majoor Henry Fernandes Airport) and Albina (Albina Airstrip).[14] Finally on 13 March 2015 the helicopter fleet of three Chetaks was officially handed over by the Indian ambassador Subashini Murgesan to the Minister of Defence of Suriname Lamuré Latour with a nice ceremony some inaugural flights were made over airport Zorg en Hoop to restart SAF operations again.[15][16] On the same day and occasion the Minister announced that a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter was about to strengthen the airfleet of the Suriname Air Force shortly with pilots already in training.

Equipment Air Force Inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[17] In reserve On Order Notes
Cessna 172  USA Liaison & Training Aircraft 172N Skyhawk 1 (SAF-007) In service from 1993 now for sale as PZ-NAW
Britten-Norman Islander  United Kingdom Transport and Patrol Aircraft BN-2A (Defender) Islander-2B-21 1 2 (SAF-001), (SAF-002), (SAF-003)
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter  Canada Transport DHC-6- Twin Otter 1 (SAF-...)
HAL Chetak  India Utility Helicopter HAL Chetak SA-316B 3 (SAF-H001), (SAF-H002) & (SAF-H003) delivered January 2015, now in operation as (SAF-153), (SAF-303) and (SAF-811)

Former Aircraft

Aircraft Origin Type Versions Used Qty Notes
Transport, Light Attack and Utility Aircraft
CASA C-212 Aviocar  Spain Transport and Patrol Aircraft 212-400 Aviocar 1 (SAF-212) Transport a/c in service from 1998 till 2015 (re-rgd PZ-TJR, Sold as N761CA)
CASA C-212 Aviocar  Spain Maritime Patrol Aircraft 212-400 MPA Patrullero 1 (SAF-214) MPA in service from 1999 till 2015 (Sold as N847CA)
Cessna 206  United States Utility Aircraft TU206G Turbo Stationair 1 (SAF-200) In service from 1982 to 1998. (Sold)
Cessna 303  United States Transport and VIP Aircraft T303 Crusader 1 (SAF-008) In service from 1993 to 1997. (Crashed re-rgd PZ-TVD w/o)
Britten Norman Islander  United Kingdom Transport and Patrol Aircraft BN-2A (Defender) Islander-2B-21 1 (SAF-004) In service from 1982 to 1997. (Crashed)
Pilatus PC-7   Swiss Light attack Aircraft PC-7 Turbo Trainer 1 (SAF-111) In service from 1985 to 1990. (Originally HB-HMN, Sold to US as N828PC)
Pilatus PC-7   Swiss Light attack Aircraft PC-7 Turbo Trainer 2 (SAF-112) & (SAF-113) In service from 1985 to 1987. (Returned to manufacturer as HB-HMP & HB-HMQ)
Helicopters
Aerospatiale Alouette III  France Utility Helicopter Sud Aviation SE-3160 2 (SAF-400) & (SAF-500) In service from 1986 to 1999. (One sold, one crashed)
Bell 205  United States Utility Helicopter 205A-1 Iroquois 1 (SAF-300) In service from 1987 to 1991. (Sold to US as N6594S)
Hughes 500  United States Utility Helicopter Model 369D 1 (SAF-100) In service from March to May 1982 (Crashed 4 fatalities).

Command structure & organisation

The President of the Republic, Dési Bouterse, is the head of the armed forces, with the title of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (Opperbevelhebber van de Strijdkrachten). The President is the supreme authority for all national military matters . The President is assisted by the Minister of Defence in his role over the armed forces, Mr. Lamure Latour. The director of the Ministry of Defence is Mr. John Achong.

Beneath the President and Minister of Defense is the Commander of the Armed Forces (Bevelhebber van de Strijdkrachten), Colonel Hedwig Gilaard, whose headquarters is in Paramaribo, was followed-up after three years by Colonel Ronni Benschop, who in turn was promoted to Brigade General in February 2014. This is the highest-ranked officer in the Armed Forces of Suriname ever.[18][19]

The Commander called "Bevelhebber", is the Military Chief, charged with command over the different Military Branches. The Military Branches and regional Military Commands report to the Commander. The present Commander of the Air Force is Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kartodikromo. The Commander of the new Helicopter Wing is Captain John-Marc Arron.

Commanding officers of the Suriname Armed Forces at present

* Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kartodikromo is the Commander of the Air Force

References

  1. http://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=94928
  2. http://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=167180
  3. http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1987/One-Of-Two-Americans-Reported-Killed-In-Crash-Of-Army-Helicopter/id-619535e33fb28f3150800cc784f2a260
  4. "casa - 1999 - 2285 - Flight Archive". Retrieved 15 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. http://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/c212/
  6. http://www.defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/release/3/477/delivery-of-a-second-c_212_400-to-suriname.html
  7. "HAL Executes Export Order For Chetak Helicopters To Suriname - Hands Over 2 Of The 3 Contracted - AA Me, IN". Retrieved 15 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "India ready to deliver three Dhruv copters to Suriname army". Pakistan Defence. Retrieved 15 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "::Avianet.eu:: De luchtvaartsite van Nederland". Retrieved 15 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Republiek Suriname - Overheid - TECHNICI LUCHTMACHT NAAR INDIA VOOR BIJSCHOLING". Retrieved 15 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Indian helicopters already being flown by Surinamese pilots - Times of Suriname – grootste landelijke dagblad van Suriname". Times of Suriname - grootste landelijke dagblad van Suriname. Retrieved 15 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. http://m.starnieuws.com/index.php/welcome/index/nieuwsitem/27332/1
  13. http://defence-blog.com/?p=4135
  14. http://www.de-surinaamse-krant.com/2015/01/eerste-van-drie-indiase-chetak.html
  15. http://www.starnieuws.com/index.php/welcome/index/nieuwsitem/28044
  16. http://parbonieuws.com/rss/3616-helikopters-snl-ceremonieel-overgedragen.html
  17. "World Military Aircraft Inventory", Aerospace Source Book 2007, Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 15, 2007.
  18. "Starnieuws - Benschop wordt officieel legerleider en brigade-generaal". Retrieved 15 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Ministerie van Defensie - Het Nationaal Leger". Retrieved 15 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>