HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, GA – Pilots assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, used the Aviation Combat Arms Tactics Trainer to practice flying in close proximity to one another during a simulated combat scenario at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, June 6-9, 2022.
The AVCATT is a flight simulator that allows commanders to place their aircrews in complex training scenarios, such as fighting a near peer advisory, without anyone leaving the ground.
“There were four total aircrafts, and they’re flying in close proximity to each other with a couple minutes of separation,” said Lt. Col. Joseph McCarthy, 4-3 battalion commander. “The goal is to expand out, provide a smaller electromagnetic signature and avoid detection. In the event they are detected, which is in some of the scenarios and problems we throw at the pilots, they perform maneuvers to break detection of the systems.”
Crews considered everything during their extensive planning process, including enemy presence and capabilities that could pose a threat to them during the flight.
“There was a significant amount of planning that went into the mission, appropriately named “Marne Tough,” explained Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ryan Chambers, the 4th Bn., 3rd AVN Regt. aviation safety officer. “The mission itself involved most of the contingencies we expected during planning. Every crewmember had to be on their toes, make immediate and intelligent decisions and execute those decisions in a timely manner.”
The AVCATT allows commanders to create a dynamic training event that forces young aviators to develop the decision making skills they’ll need as air mission commanders and battle captains in future conflicts.
“We’re providing complex scenarios that our pilots have never faced,” said McCarthy. “Whether we have pilots that have been in aviation for 20 years or 20 months right out of flight school, none of us have experienced this type of flight. So providing these complex operational environments against a near peer threat, with the capability we would expect to face in the event that we were in combat with those near peers inherently increases readiness.”
Pilots aren’t the only ones benefiting from the AVCATT, the system also allows crew members to experience the simulation with the Non-rated Crew Member Manned Module (NCM3). Entire air crews are now able to rehearse and refine their role in a combat scenario, increasing commander’s confidence their crews can perform effectively in any situation.
Practicing action on contact training in a simulated environment before introducing complicated maneuvers to actual aircrafts allow Soldiers to build confidence in their skills, and discover a new found understanding of their lethality against a near peer advisory.
“Our team is really working hard,” said McCarthy. “The amount of intellectual rigor that they have put into this, and have tested it every quarter whether it’s down at the Joint Readiness Training Center or doing joint operations with the Marine Corps, we’ve played a strong part in not only making the branch better, but supporting the 3rd Infantry Division.”