Restructuring Army Aviation
What is it? Army Aviation is transforming to improve Army aviation capabilities to meet current and future full-spectrum aviation requirements. The Aviation Transformation Plan was developed based on a full Doctrine, Organization, Training, Leadership and Education, Materiel, Personnel, and Facilities analysis that included the integration of lessons learned from recent operations. The Plan restructures Army aviation warfighting units (active and reserve components) into Combat Aviation Brigades (CABs) ensuring the aviation units are more modular, capable, lethal, tailorable and sustainable. CABs are structured into modular formations (light, medium, heavy) that allow for a "plug and play" of units into task force organizations to support all contingency operations.
What has the Army done? Army aviation has converted, or in the process of converting, the CABs of the 3rd Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Division, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, and the 10th Mountain Division to the modular construct. The end-state will be 11 active component CABs and eight reserve component CABs by the end of 2007. We are fielding a Brigade Aviation Element (BAE) in every Brigade Combat Team (BCT), a BAE(-) in each Stryker BCT and Fires Brigade, and converting four Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot to the Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group. Training and Doctrine Command has conducted a massive revision of all the Aviation base field manuals and fully integrated Flight School XXI for all Initial Entry Rotary Wing students. This includes Phase one Dunker and Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape prior to beginning basic flight training. Additionally, we are continuing the rapid acquisition process for several new advanced aircraft: Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH), Future Cargo Aircraft (FCA), Small Unmanned Aircraft System, and the Extended Range Multi-Purpose (ER/MP) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). We are also modernizing our existing fleet of helicopters to provide increased capabilities, ensure compatibility with future force systems and extend the service life. Upgraded systems include the Longbow Apache Attack helicopter (AH-64D) Block III, Chinook Cargo helicopter (CH-47F/MH-47G) and Blackhawk Utility helicopter (UH-60M).
What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? Beginning in 2006, the Army will establish aviation units under Theater Aviation Commands, transform Army Special Operations Aviation, and continue the transformation of the remaining Divisional CABs in both the active and reserve components. Between 2008-2010 we will begin to field the ARH, LUH, FCA, ER/MP UAS, CH-47F, UH-60M, and the AH-64D Longbow Block III systems.
Why is this important to the Army? As recent events around the world have illustrated, Army Aviation continues to be a vital member of the Joint Force's response to full-spectrum military operations - from homeland defense and disaster relief, to peace enforcement and combat operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Army aviation needs congressional support to ensure we remain on the acquisition timeline for our five new start and three modernization programs. Transformation will not be successful without the modernization of the aviation fleet. In order to sustain this critical support to the warfighter, Army Aviation will transform, modernize and station its units to maintain a modular, sustainable, deployable, and lethal force that can execute the full range of missions stateside and abroad.