Avenger sling loaded for first time in 10 years
June 7, 2012
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (June 7, 2012) -- This spring, 2nd Battalion 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, sling loaded an Avenger Air Defense System for the first time in more than ten years at Fort Campbell, Ky.
The sling load training was part of the 101st Sustainment Brigade's Mungadi event, held from April 30 to May 4.
The battalion selected C Battery to train the Mungadi participants -- company grade officers and noncommissioned officers from the 101st Sustainment Brigade who then conducted the sling load operations of an Avenger.
A lot of coordination and preparation went into planning and executing the training. Staff had a long list of chores to accomplish -- from researching Avenger sling load requirements to coordinating with an Army CH-47 "Chinook" helicopter before the training event.
"I don't know if you know, but the Avenger has not been sling loaded in ten years here at Fort Campbell. On May 3rd, 2012, Sergeant Jenkins and I felt like we made history," said Sgt. Blaine Jeffrie, C Battery trainer.
"Prepping for the class was hard; we didn't have a lot of experience in our battalion with rigging or sling loading the Avenger."
Soldiers from the entire "Strike Fear" battalion had to contribute to make the training a success. 1st Lt. Jonathan Wood, a recent Pathfinder graduate, helped the trainers prepare
the class and was also the load inspector, insuring that the rigged Avenger was safe to attach to and be lifted by the Chinook helicopter.
Sgt. Jaron Jenkins, the unit trainer, and Jeffrie taught their sling load class more than eight times. The class included the requirement that students inspect a load for any deficiencies that would make the Avenger unsafe when lifted into the air.
"Anytime you get to work with helicopters it's an exciting experience. Learning to sling load various types of Army equipment was something unique because it is not something you work with on a day-to-day basis," said 2nd Lt. Leeann Craig, a platoon leader who took the sling load class.
The training was especially challenging because there is more than one way to sling load the Avenger. Trainees were taught using 25K sling legs (a set of four sling legs with each leg capable of supporting 6,250 pounds individually), cargo hook reach pendant hooks, and a hook-up connection using the front and rear cargo hooks of the helicopter.
Students were able to hook up the Avenger to the Chinook helicopter more than seven times during the training.
As the home of the Air Assault School, many Soldiers at Fort Campbell are Air Assault certified and have gone through sling load training; however, the Avenger is not a piece of equipment that is taught at the school.
"It's one thing to hear about a sling load class, but when you actually get to see an Avenger sling loaded it really helps put our purpose into perspective," said 2nd Lt. Mitchell Reed, a trainee with 2-44th ADA. Feeling the wind off the Chinook as it made its descent to the Avenger was exhilarating. It was a good review for those with experience and a great introduction for those of us who are new."
Hauling an Avenger by helicopter lets air defenders emplace at sites that are impossible to reach over land - and to do it fast.
"This event was important in re-building our capability to support maneuver brigades from the 101st and 82nd. It helps prepare us to assume the Global Response Force mission," said Maj. Benjamin Metzler, battalion S3 (training and operations officer), who highlighted how the ability to sling load Avenger systems increases air defense capabilities worldwide. "Our ability to move weapon systems from one point to another over vast distances and harsh terrain at a moment's notice is an incredible asset. We wanted to maximize the training opportunity."
"The Avenger weapon system was a very unique vehicle to sling load," Jenkins said. "I'm proud that Charlie Battery received the tasking because it was a lot of fun as well as being a great learning experience that (Sgt.) Jeffrie and I can spread throughout the whole battalion."