Posts Tagged ‘Helicopters’

Army Pilot Trainees Go Straight to Combat

January 17, 2009

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The days of sending pilots out of Fort Rucker’s aviation flight school for a year of on-the-job-training are over, said the installation commander there.

“We’re now sending many of them directly into theater. And, feedback so far from commanders is that they’re doing pretty well,” said Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Warfighting Center and Fort Rucker, Ala. He said the Army aviation community is experiencing a very high operating tempo.

“While the combat brigades are drawing down in Iraq, Army aviation is seeing a plus-up with shorter times away from the fight and less predictability in deployment cycles,” Barclay said. “It’s not an easy business right now and I don’t see any changes in the near term.”

The general said that with forces thinning in Iraq, demand on remaining troops increases, requiring them to be in more places. That puts an increased demand on aviation units. He said Army aviation is increasing its presence in Afghanistan as well.

While focus on the combat mission is clear, Barclay said the lines are blurred between training and operations commands involving the aviation community.

“We quit separating the components and commands,” he said, indicating the units train, fight and talk to each other more than ever before. Organizations he was referring to include: Training and Doctrine Command, Forces Command, Army Materiel Command, Fort Rucker and Installation Management Command, as well as Guard, Reserve and active components.

“We’re truly a combined force, tied at the hip. We have to be. It’s about being more effective, not just more efficient,” he said, citing the Army Enterprise best practices model as aviation’s campaign plan.

Barclay said there’s a continual and rapid movement of personnel and their equipment from training to deployment to reset, then looping back to training, with relevant and responsive feedback throughout the cycle. For example, he said, lessons learned in combat are immediately applied to training and to new aviation equipment design.

Although the aviation community is combat-oriented, planning and rollout of new manned and unmanned aircraft to meet current and future needs is still a high priority, with design for crew survivability ranking at the top, he noted.

There is also an emphasis of empowering leaders from the bottom up and giving them more responsibility.

“There’s an effort of decentralization of leadership; a push-down of tasks and decision-making designed to enfranchise the small-unit leaders,” he said.

Although it is a busy time, he said the aviation community is not broken. Barclay noted that although dwell times in and out of theater are not good-about a 1:1 ratio for the aviation brigades-the enlistment and reenlistment rate is “doing well, despite not only the time deployed, but also attractive job offers from the contracting community.”

Barclay said that while improved technology is important, success still depends on good people. He said leaders “must keep the focus on our young men and women who voluntarily answer the call to duty and go in harm’s way over and over again.”

David Vergun (ANS)

MH-53 Pave Low — 41 Years of Special Operations Action

December 2, 2008

The MH-53J/M Pave Low helicopter was flown by the US Air Force Special Operations Command or AFSOC from 1967 until retirement in 2008. The Pave Low’s mission was low-level, long-range, undetected penetration into denied areas by day or night. It served honorably in Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the first Gulf War, and the entire gamut of anti-terrorist operations since 9/11.

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U.S. Army Wants New ARH Requirements by January

October 24, 2008
AFSOC MH-53 Pave Low

AFSOC MH-53 Pave Low

The US Air Force Special Operations Command AFSOC retired its MH-53 Pave Low special operations helicopters in September 2008. You can still own one of these legendary MH-53 Pave Low special operations helicopters. Choose the poster, a framed art print, a 12-month 2009 calendar, or even a greeting card set. Find all your MH-53 Pave Low art gifts at The PatriArt Gallery. Or if you prefer the AFSOC MH-53 tee-shirt, beer stein, or other souvenir items, visit The Military Chest.

The U.S. Defense Department’s cancellation of the Army’s Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) program has set off a flurry of activity within the service, reports Aviation Week.

The Army’s operations director, Lt. Gen. James Thurman, told reporters early Oct. 17 that he will do everything he can to push new requirements back to DOD’s high-level Joint Requirements Oversight Council by January 2009 and re-open competition for an aircraft.

“The Army has an enduring requirement [for manned, armed reconnaissance],” Thurman said at a hastily arranged Pentagon roundtable. “We will move as fast as possible to replace [the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior].”

Thurman promised that his “priority every day” will be to re-validate ARH requirements as quickly as possible so a new competition can commence. By Oct. 20 he will personally take a written document that pushes for a requirements review to the Training and Doctrine Command, he declared.

Pentagon acquisition chief John Young announced late Oct. 16 that he had decided not to re-certify ARH, which incurred a Nunn-McCurdy breach due to cost and schedule overruns. The announcement cited Bell’s cost estimates, which ballooned from $359 million for development to $942 million, and from $8.56 million per unit to $14.48 million. Deliveries originally scheduled for next year had slipped to 2013.

“This was not a surprise,” according to Lt. Gen. Ross Thompson, Army acquisition chief, who spoke at the roundtable. “All the triggers in the acquisition process have been pulled… We got to the point where [the Bell ARH] was no longer the right decision.”

Read the full article at Aviation Week

Marine Colonel Says Pakistani Army Aided Taliban

September 23, 2008
Aviation Calendar 2009

Aviation Calendar 2009

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Pakistani military forces flew repeated helicopter missions into Afghanistan to resupply the Taliban during a fierce battle in June 2007, according to a Marine lieutenant colonel, who says his information is based on multiple U.S. and Afghan intelligence reports.

The revelation by Lt. Col. Chris Nash, who commanded an embedded training team in eastern Afghanistan from June 2007 to March 2008, adds a new twist to the controversy over a U.S. special operations raid into Pakistan Sept. 3.

Pakistani officials strongly protested that raid, with a statement issued by the foreign ministry calling it a “gross violation of Pakistan’s territory.”

But fewer than 15 months earlier, Pakistani forces were flying cross-border missions in the other direction to resupply a “base camp” in Nangarhar Province occupied by fighters from the Taliban, al-Qaida and the Hezb-i-Islami faction led by Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Nash told Army Times in a Sept. 17 telephone interview.

Read more at Army Times

MH-53 Pave Low

August 30, 2008
MH-53 Pave Low

MH-53 Pave Low

The MH-53 Pave Low helicopter flown by the US Air Force Special Operations Command AFSOC can hover on your wall too. Find the calendar, framed art print, and poster at The PatriArt Gallery.

The MH-53J/M Pave Low’s mission is low-level, long-range, undetected penetration into denied areas, day or night, in adverse weather, for infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces.

The MH-53J/M Pave Low IV medium-lift helicopter is the largest, most powerful and technologically advanced helicopter in the Air Force inventory. The terrain-following and terrain-avoidance radar, forward-looking infrared sensor, inertial navigation system with global positioning system, along with a projected map display enable the crew to follow terrain contours. It also enables the crew to avoid obstacles in adverse weather, making low-level tactical penetration possible.

The MH-53M Pave Low IV is a J-model that has been modified with the Interactive Defensive Avionics System/Multi-Mission Advanced Tactical Terminal. This system greatly enhances present defensive capabilities of the Pave Low. It provides instant access to the total battlefield situation, using near real-time electronic Order of Battle updates. It also provides a new level of detection avoidance with near real-time threat broadcasts over-the-horizon, so crews can avoid and defeat threats, and replan en route if needed. 

Under the Pave Low III program, the Air Force modified nine MH-53Hs and 32 HH-53s for night and adverse weather operations. Modifications included forward-looking infrared, inertial global positioning system, Doppler navigation systems, terrain-following and terrain-avoidance radar, an on-board computer, and integrated avionics to enable precise navigation to and from target areas. The Air Force designated these modified versions as MH-53Js. 

Since they entered the Air Force inventory, Pave Lows, with their unique special operations mission and capabilities, have supported several campaigns. In 1990, Pave Lows from the 20th Special Operations Squadron led the way for Army AH-64 Apaches during an air strike, thus opening the air war in Operation Desert Storm. Most recently, Pave Lows have played a crucial role in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

General Characteristics
Primary Function: Long-range infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces in day, night or adverse weather conditions
Contractor: Sikorsky
Power Plant: Two General Electric T64-GE-100 engines
Thrust: 4,330 shaft horsepower per engine
Rotary Diameter: 72 feet (21.9 meters)
Length: 88 feet (28 meters)
Height: 25 feet (7.6 meters)
Speed: 165 mph (at sea level)
Ceiling: 16,000 feet (4,876 meters)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 46,000 pounds (Emergency War Plan allows for 50,000 pounds)
Range: 600 nautical miles 
Armament: Combination of three 7.62 mini guns or three .50 caliber machine guns
Crew:  Two pilots (officers);  two flight engineers and two aerial gunners (enlisted)
Date Deployed: 1981
Unit Costs: $40 million (fiscal 2001 constant dollars)
Air Force Inventory: Active force, 2 MH-53J’s, 20 MH-53M’s; Reserve, 0; ANG, 0