Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery Colorado National Guard prepare a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launcher to be driven to a range here July 24, 2013, after it was offloaded from an Air Force Reserve C-130 aircraft at Fort Sill's Henry Post Army Air Field. The fort was the site of a joint live fire exercise involving the Colorado National Guard; Air Force Reserve Command 302nd Air Wing based at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.; 45th Fires Brigade Oklahoma National Guard; and Fort Sill units.

FORT SILL, Okla. (Aug. 1, 2013) -- The Colorado National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery, with assistance from the Air Force Reserve, Oklahoma National Guard and Fort Sill units, conducted a live fire exercise (LFX) July 24 here.

The joint training simulated an artillery raid where High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers were flown in on military aircraft, quickly offloaded, drove into position and then fired. The HIMARS then convoyed back to the waiting aircraft, were rapidly on loaded and the planes took off.

"I believe we are the first National Guard unit to do a hot panel shoot (artillery raid)," said Lt. Col. Bob Davis, 3-157th FA commander, from Fort Carson, Colo. "This was a very important and complex training event."

At about 9:30 a.m., two HIMARS launchers were loaded on two C-130 aircraft from the Air Force Reserve Command 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. After a brief delay because of fog, the planes made the 90-minute flight to Henry Post Army Air Field here, touching down about 11:40 a.m.

Air Force loadmasters directed the offloading of the HIMARS by Soldiers from the 3-157th FA, as Oklahoma National Guard 45th Fires Brigade and Fort Sill Soldiers assisted. The HIMARS launchers were then escorted by military police to Training Area 57 on West Range.

HIMARS crews from A and B batteries got into forward positions and fired their payload of 12 rounds. Soldiers, Airmen, local invited family members and senior leaders from the Colorado National Guard in a viewing area oo'd and ah'd as rockets blasted out of their tubes and left a trail of smoke as they zipped toward targets at supersonic speeds.

By the time the launchers were back on the C-130s, the entire operation here took only about 3½ hours hardly enough time to cool the planes turboprops.

The hot panel shoot involved about 20 Soldiers from the 3-157th FA, including support personnel, Davis said. He said he wanted his Soldiers to learn how to prepare and how to load a HIMARS launcher onto an aircraft, as well as to understand how to transmit fire missions and to control those fires from a great distance.

The LFX was the culmination of two-weeks annual training for Davis' battalion.

"We just came out of the field yesterday (July 23), where we certified all four of my firing platoons, and we also had a 96-hour war where were trained in battalion operations."

Air Force Capt. Andrew Kochman was the mission commander for the Air Force portion, which involved a mix of 14 active-duty and Reserve Airmen on the two flight crews. He said it was not a typical mission for them, but something that they would do on a deployment.

"We operated a brand new system for us the HIMARS which we never worked with before so we had to learn how to load it onto the aircraft," said Kochman. "It's a very heavy system so we learned how it makes the aircraft perform in the air, and even on the ground."

Kochman added it was a phenomenal training opportunity to work with the Army. "It went really well for us, and we're looking forward to doing it again."

The Fort Sill Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security coordinated the mission which involved numerous units, agencies and organizations on post, said Alex Cruz, DPTMS Mobilization External Unit Training coordinator. These units included the 428th FA Brigade, virtually all the directorates, Range Operations, Air Field operations and the National Guard Liaison Office.

Davis said the training involved a lot of coordination and support from the 45th FiB and Fort Sill.

"Fort Sill is the home of field artillery, the motherland, and they are very proactive in allowing us to come here to do this type of mission," he said.

Page last updated Thu August 1st, 2013 at 10:00