By Spc. Alex SkripnichukAugust 5, 2014
FORT HOOD, Texas (Aug. 4, 2014) -- On a hot Texas day, the helicopter hovered like an eagle searching for its prey. A set of targets poped up in the distance. The door gunner of the UH-60 Black Hawk identified the threat, called out direction, distance and description. The noise coming from the M240H machine gun was deafening as the door gunner engaged the targets.
Soldiers from 3rd Attack Helicopter Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, on Fort Hood, Texas, took to the skies and qualified on the helicopter's weapons.
Soldiers have to engage vehicle and man-size targets. They do this from inside of a moving helicopter, which is no easy task. This series of qualifications is for the crew chiefs. They qualify so they can train other Soldiers in proper operation of the helicopter's weapons.
"Targets are hard to hit when you are shooting from a helicopter moving at 70 knots," said Sgt. John Flores, a flight instructor and crew chief for the Assault Squadron.
"To qualify, the gunners have to hit a series of targets from 150 to 800 meters away," said Staff Sgt. Joel Redman, the squadron standardization instructor. "They have to hit the targets as the helicopter hovers, and as the helicopter is moving."
The process is again repeated during the night with the aid of night vision goggles.
If the gunners are able to pass seven of their 10 passes, they are considered qualified with the M240H machine gun.
The M240H is a modified version of the Army's M240B, a 7.62 mm, automatic machine gun. It is accurate to a range of 1,100 meters for area targets, vehicles and buildings, and 800 meters for point targets, enemy personnel, when it is mounted to a vehicle such as a helicopter.
"Qualification of our crew chiefs is a component of mission readiness," said Lt. Col. Christopher C. Vine, the commander of 3-227. "Our mission is to provide defensive fires in conduct of air assault and air support missions."
With the crew chiefs qualified, Soldiers of the Assault Squadron will have an opportunity to learn from the crew chiefs, and one day qualify themselves.