BOISE, Idaho – The Republic of Singapore Air Force’s Peace Vanguard detachment completed AH-64 Apache aerial gunnery throughout July at the Idaho Army National Guard’s Orchard Combat Training Center.
The Peace Vanguard detachment has been based in Marana, Arizona, since 2001, supported by the Arizona National Guard’s U.S. Army Flight Training Detachment. RSAF pilots fly eight UH-60 Apache Longbow Attack Helicopters and complete the same gunnery requirements and standards as U.S. pilots.
The detachment conducted aerial gunnery June 30 to July 29 at the Orchard Combat Training Center for the 10th straight year and used the National Guard’s only digital air-ground integrated range (DAGIR), which opened in March.
The range, one of two in the U.S. Army, allows air and ground units to train together while receiving accurate, real-time feedback on their performance.
“The scoring is instantaneous,” said Lt. Col. Jack Denton, commander of the U.S. Army Flight Training Detachment. “The second a target is hit, we know about it. It’s a great feature because sometimes you’re not sure if the round went through the target or not.”
Denton said the range’s pop-up and moving targets also provided pilots with more realistic training than most ranges. In addition, he said his master gunner was able to communicate with OCTC staff months in advance to build and develop a qualification program that ensured each pilot received the same level of training.
The U.S. Army Flight Training Detachment includes six Army National Guard pilots who fly with RSAF pilots. The arrangement is one of several arrangements the RSAF has with the U.S. military. RSAF pilots rotate through the training station in Arizona to train in desert environments and alongside U.S. pilots.
“It’s the best job I’ve had in the Army by far,” said Denton. “It’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot of uniqueness to working with other countries. It’s rewarding to break through those cultural barriers, and you can see the smile on their faces when they go out and accomplish something.”
While at the OCTC, Denton said RSAF pilots conducted individual and crew-level qualifications and worked with Marine Joint Terminal Attack Controllers to simulate providing close air support. Each engagement is recorded, allowing crews to review their training run while receiving real-time feedback from senior pilots, master gunners and range personnel.
Crews were also able to sleep and refuel at the Orchard Combat Training Center while training.
“It’s a great feature that not a lot of other places have,” said Denton.
The DAGIR is one of 23 ranges at the Orchard Combat Training Center 18 miles south of Boise. The 143,000-acre training center provides vast terrain and world-class ranges to prepare brigade combat teams and other units for combat in a tough and realistic training environment.