[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                        June 26, 2009

Missouri National Guard trains 
with Apache helicopters

By Rachel Knight, The Real McCoy Contributor

FORT MCCOY, Wis. ó Only days into its extended combat training (ECT), the Missouri National Guardís 1st, 135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion had qualified 11 of its AH-64 Apache crews on day gunnery and three on night gunnery.

Photo: An Apache helicopter approaches a target at a Fort McCoy range as a trail of smoke signals the crew has found its target. (Photo by Rachel Knight)
An Apache helicopter approaches a target at a Fort McCoy range as a trail of smoke signals the crew has found its target. (Photo by Rachel Knight)

During the day-qualifications exercises, pilots were given 12 different engagements for mock airfield assault missions, including attacking a target from hovering and flying positions. The targets differ by distance and size. The Apaches engage and deploy the 30 mm chain gun, aerial fin rockets and simulated hellfire missiles.

"Itís going very, very well considering itís only day four of annual training," said Lt. Col. Charlie Hausman, battalion commander. "Thatís similar to what we did last year for the entire annual training. We have better weather."

The Apache is the Armyís primary attack helicopter used to disrupt, delay and destroy enemy forces. Its precision weapons system can deploy 30 mm bullets out of a chain gun, 2.75-inch aerial fin rockets, and hellfire missiles.

Hausman attributes the smooth training exercise to the quarterly practices the pilots and machines have gotten over the past year at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

In September 2008, the first quarterly exercise began to help pilots and Soldiers get the extra practice they need to familiarize themselves with the task without the added pressure of qualifying.

"People are more efficient, and the equipment isnít malfunctioning and jamming," Hausman said. "Our guns have done well."

In past ECT events, the first few days were rough as the pilot, armament and mechanic personnel spent most of the days finding and fixing problems. With the quarterly training, most of these problems have already been found and fixed.

Although the pilots in the air are the ones qualifying, they are only part of the puzzle. Apache armaments, mechanics and many other Soldiers from the 1st, 135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion are working just as hard to ensure that the equipment for both flying and acquiring targets is in proper working order and safety precautions are taken at every level.

"This is a massive team effort," Hausman said. "There is not one part of this more important than any other. If any one piece of this puzzle didnít work, this exercise wouldnít work."

Hausman said maintenance to refuelers to headquarters staff all worked hard to ensure the exercise is a success. The headquarters staff took time out of their schedules to help run the range tower operations by scoring, reading the script and making sure communication was open and received to complete the mission.

"Itís a fantastic collective training event," Hausman concluded.

(Knight is with the Missouri National Guard Public Affairs Office.)


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