GRAFENWÖHR, Germany -- The 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, recently completed their combined combat aerial gunnery, here, March 16-April 05, at the Grafenwoehr Training Area.

The AH-64 Apache crews focused on advanced team and platoon engagement and full integration of NATO partner aviation assets while the CH-47 Chinook crews focused on engaging static targets at close range and firing on long range targets on the move. The additional aircraft came in the form of two German Tiger Attack helicopters from 4th Battalion, Kampfhubschrauberregiment 36, Fritzlar, Germany.

"Partnering with the German Tigers for our advanced table gunnery was a great opportunity to integrate a partner NATO member into our planning process and execute a live fire scenario together," said Chief Warrant Officer four Kevin Clark, the 1st Bn., 3rd Avn. Regt. standardization officer.

Combat aviation units conduct gunnery bi-annually to ensure effective employment of all available weapons and in order to develop and sustain tactical skills that will allow them to maneuver effectively and survive on the battlefield. The combination of crew gunnery and tactical skills is essential for total weapon system proficiency.

Hotel Company, "Big Windy," fired over 40,000 rounds to qualify their crew chief door gunners on the M-240H machine gun. "Our scenario included a 20 foot hover engagement and a 60-knot moving target engagement," said Staff Sgt. Shelby Hansen, a CH-47 helicopter repairer and battalion standardization instructor. "The training replicated the aerial suppression of an enemy and the insertion of troops into a hostile landing zone."

The German Tiger attack helicopter teams were fully integrated into the planning and execution phase of the gunnery scenario. This partnership between the Bundeswehr and U.S. Army builds interoperability and communication within the European aviation community. "We're here to train together, fly together and fight together," said Stefan Jakobi, a munitions safety chief with 4th Battalion, Kampfhubschrauberregiment 36, Fritzlar, Germany.

The culminating event at gunnery was a mixed multi-aircraft live fire exercise demonstration for "Viper" Soldiers and their Families. During the demonstration the AH-64 Apaches engaged dynamic targets with 30mm chain guns and aerial rockets, while the CH-47 Chinooks engaged targets with M-240H machine guns. The family day provided members of the Viper Family insight into unit daily operations in a field exercise environment and a chance to wind down with their Soldiers at the Wild B.O.A.R. Outdoor Recreation Complex.

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The 12th Combat Aviation Brigade trains and conducts aviation support across the full spectrum of unified land operations for United States Army Europe, European Command, NATO, and in support of CENTCOM, AFRICOM and other contingency locations around the globe.