78th Aviation Battalion upgrades crew machine guns
At left, Sgt. Robert Dahlen, crew chief with the 78th Aviation Battalion of U.S. Army Japan and Staff Sgt. John Valverde, also from 78th Avn. Bn., learn how to conduct maintenance on their crew-issued, brand new M240H machine guns.

Soldiers and aviators from the 78th Aviation Battalion of U.S. Army Japan are now fielding a new crew-served weapon, the M240H machine gun, thanks to a recent upgrade which replaced the old, antiquated M60D machine gun that was widely used during the Vietnam War.

In August, USARJ G4 informed the unit of the M240H fielding plan as part of the Department of Army's continued effort of force modernization. The upgrade process began by turning in ten old M60D machineguns in November and accepting ten new M240H machineguns.

"It's important for us to train on the Army's newest equipment," said Lt. Col. David A. George, USARJ 78th Avn. Bn. commander. "The M240H weapon system is currently in use throughout Army Aviation, and we are excited to be part of the Army's modernization efforts. This fielding will improve our individual readiness, which in turn improves the overall readiness of the Army."

The M60D and the M240H have many similar characteristics, but the durability of the M240H system is superior to the M60D, according to Sgt. 1st Class Albert Serrano, a USARJ 78th Avn. Bn. master gunner of A Company and flight platoon sergeant.

"The M240H is more reliable and easier to maintain," he said.

To become familiar with the new weaponry, Soldiers and aviators attended a two-day course administered by a master gunner from Ft. Rucker, Ala., who was assisted by a DA civilian. The course entailed proper maintenance and inspection procedures, loading procedures, function checks and performing immediate action in case of a weapon malfunction.

The Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) when employing the M240H were among the most important information sections of the course, which are imperative for Soldiers who are deployed out to units in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Recently, the 78th Avn. Bn. deployed two UH60 Black Hawks to Okinawa for aerial door gunnery at the W174 training area, where crew chiefs fired the M240H through a series of range tables for weapon familiarization and qualification.

The design of the M240H aircraft mount makes it easier for crew chiefs to handle and fire the machinegun while the aircraft is at a hover or in forward flight.

"The range was a success," said Staff Sgt. Roque Garcia, a USARJ 78th Avn. Bn. crew chief. "It gave the Soldiers confidence in the weapon. By far, the M240H is superior over our old M60D."

The M240 machine gun was first used by the Army in 1977 as a co-axial tank gun and later used on many other weapon systems. This eventually led to further improvements and upgrades bringing the M240H that is used in both UH-60 Blackhawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

Page last updated Fri January 12th, 2007 at 17:06