Fort Stewart, GA - Pilots and aircrew members of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, took to the sky during aerial gunnery at Fort Stewart, Georgia, April 26 to May 7.
Aerial gunnery is a semiannual requirement for pilots and aircrew members to maintain their confidence and proficiency with a M240H machine gun. Aircrew members of 2nd Bn., 3rd GSAB are required to pass a series of tests known as “tables” to achieve the qualification.
Gunnery tables I-III involve academics and simulator training. After honing their skills in the simulator, pilots and aircrew members proceed to the live-fire tables, completing both day and night iterations. Gunnery tables IV-VI are engagements from the helicopter to ground targets. Tables VII-IX consist of two aircraft working in tandem to destroy targets. Tables X-XII are the culminating event, in which aircrews are shooting their weapons from the aircraft while executing an air assault scenario.
Pilots and aircrew members utilized both UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters to effectively engage their targets.
“Aerial gunnery is a compilation of tasks that begin with non-rated crew members being instructed in basic marksmanship principles, and culminates in successful completion of a mixed aircraft, platoon sized live-fire event,” said 1st Lt. Mitchell Yelenosky, the officer in charge of the aerial gunnery.
Gunnery requires a slew of tasks in order to function smoothly, from the sufficient amount of aircraft, to the tactics classes, to the range space available.
“The most crucial part of conducting a smooth and successful gunnery is having able and motivated crew chiefs and aviators,” Yelenosky said. “We are lucky to have exceptional crewmembers that can be trusted in such complex and difficult tasks.”
Aerial gunnery is an essential qualification and training opportunity for pilots and crewmembers. It trains aircrew members to work under varying and complex constraints, as one aircraft or as part of a multi-ship mission set, and certifies crewmembers as lethal professionals.
“It is critical for our crew chiefs to be familiar and, ultimately experts, with their weapons while conducting aerial missions, as it validates our ability to protect our aircraft during a wide variety of assigned missions, including air assaults,” said Maj. Joel Castro, the 2nd Bn., 3rd GSAB executive officer.
“The battalion as a whole performed exceptionally during the table gunnery in which we successfully qualified thirty-five crew chiefs in the UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters.”