Vilseck, Germany - The wind whips from the angry rotor wash of the Ch-47 Chinook helicopters as the eight ship flight soars over the skies of the U.S. Army's Grafenwoehr training area.
The group of aircraft are part of an aerial gunnery exercise conducted by the 2-1 General Aviation Support Battalion, and the 3-1 Assault Helicopter Battalion, both of which are part of the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.
Aerial gunnery is part of an ongoing requirement to ensure pilots and their crews are ready to fight on a moment's notice. By conducting this training, units like 2-1 GSAB and 3-1 AHB maintain readiness, proficiency, and the ability to deploy in support of global operations.
"The Fighting Eagles significantly increased unit readiness and aircrew progression by conducting [these] ranges," said Ltc. Jake Whiteside, commander of 2-1 GSAB. The event allowed crews from both UH-60 Blackhawks, and Ch-47 Chinooks to maintain or increase proficiency on their weapon systems.
The training also helps prepare air crews for the upcoming exercise, Saber Junction 19. Saber Junction is a 7th Army Training Command conducted, U.S. Army Europe directed combat training rotation for the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team at the Joint Multination Readiness Center from Sep. 3-30, 2019. The 1st CAB is supporting the exercise, which includes 5,400 participants from the U.S. and 15 other NATO allied and partner nations.
"[The] Fighting Eagles main focus is to validate training and readiness through the culminating exercise, Saber Junction 19," said Whiteside. The exercise will mark the completion of the 1st CAB's nine month rotation as part of the Atlantic Resolve mission.
Throughout their Atlantic Resolve rotation, 1st CAB participated in over eight major exercises across Germany and Eastern Europe, dozens of partnered training events, and the historic D-Day 75 remembrance in France and the U.K. The unit will redeploy back to Fort Riley, KS within the next few months and will be replaced by the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade from Savannah, GA.