By Capt. Jaymon Bell (12th Combat Aviation Brigade)August 26, 2016
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- The 12th Combat Aviation Brigade recently completed their combined combat aviation gunnery, here, Jul. 30-Aug. 24, at the Grafenwoehr Training Area.
Aviation gunnery trains individuals, crews, and companies on weapons proficiency and validates the operational readiness of the unit. The 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment maximized the training event through integrating war fighting functions from other USAREUR elements.
This combined event met multiple training objectives for each unit that was involved.
The battalion hosted fire support and UAS assets from 173rd Airborne and 2CR as well as multi-national and special operations Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC).
The 12th CAB followed the three phase gunnery progression and integrated additional elements during each phase.
During phase one, individual aircrew members attend classroom training and simulators to improve their academic understanding of the critical skills required during weapons operations.
In the second phase, AH-64 crews qualified on the 30mm cannon, 3.75in rockets and also simulated the firing of Hellfire missiles. The aircrew phase also integrated JTACs from Germany, Belgium, Slovakia, USASOC, and Sweden as live players during a team employment scenario.
The JTACs directed pairs of AH-64s on to targets in order to train junior controllers and improve pilot air-ground integration with an active ground force in close proximity.
"It's a much more dynamic and realistic scenario with actual friendlies on the range," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Vinson, the BN Tactical Operation Officer for 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 12th CAB.
Both the Apache Pilots and JTACs participated in a combined after actions review for each scenario. This review allows the ground and air element a chance to evaluate the success of the scenario by reviewing the gun tape footage and providing their counterpart with positive direct feedback.
The collective phase is the final and capstone event of combat aviation gunnery. During this phase, the battalion staff from 1st Bn., 3rd Avn. Regt., planned a three company attack that incorporated field artillery fires, forward arming and refueling points (FARP), and unmanned aircraft systems for reconnaissance.
U.S. Paratroopers from Charlie company 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, provided the M777 155mm Artillery Systems. Soldiers from 2CR piloted an RQ-7 Shadow in order to train on manned-unmanned teaming techniques (MUM-T).
Alpha Company, 1st Bn., 3rd Avn. Regt. utilized CH-47F Chinook Helicopters equipped with the Extended Range Fuel System (ERFS) from Hotel Company, 1st Bn., 214th Avn. Regt., to refuel their AH-64s. The support mission, known as a "Fat Cow," extends the distance at which attack aviation units can operate.
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.