FORT CARSON, Colo. - Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, honed their aviation skills and qualified on the weapon systems of their AH-64D Longbow Apache Helicopters during aerial gunneries Dec. 13.
Families of the 1st Bn., "Gunslingers," 2nd Avn. Regt. Soldiers cheered their loved ones as the crews conducted live fire-exercises during a public viewing of the proficiency test at Fort Carson Range 109.
Each two-man team, comprised of a commissioned officer and warrant officer, engaged a series of targets using the Longbow 30 mm Boeing M230 Chain Gun and training rounds replicating the Boeing AGM114D Longbow Hellfire Missile and 2.75 Folding Fin Aerial Rocket during day and night live-fire exercises.
As their Families looked on the Half Attack Soldiers preformed their daily mission, preparing for the next time the unit is called into action.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Charles Reed III, battalion tactical operations officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Bn., 2nd Avn. Reg., explained the teams are graded by acoustic sensors that can tell where rounds will strike.
Reed said the sensors are supplemented by digital recording devices providing operators in the control tower a visual of the target.
"The sensors do not always track a hit so we use the recorders to verify everything," he said.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Julian Diaz, a pilot assigned to Company A, 1st Bn., 2nd Avn. Reg., said the training rockets are designed to fire like the real thing without costing the Army "an arm and a leg."
"Obviously it is not cool to launch a luxury vehicle off the side of your aircraft in a training exercise," said Diaz.
The battalion, which recently re-located from Korea to the Mountain Post, faced unexpected challenges in the snow and wind of a Colorado December.
"First it snowed," said Diaz. "Which was not harmful for the aircraft, but it cuts down on visibility and makes it dangerous to fly. Then it froze; it got down to minus 8 degrees Celsius, so the crew chiefs were out de-icing rotor blades and trying to get the aircraft to start."
Diaz said 25-knot winds ripping through the training area on the morning of the live-fire further challenged the flight crews.
The weather conditions proved challenging for the flight crews working to maintain the equipment in the extreme cold, said Spc. Emmanuel Dominguez, crew chief, Company A, 1st Bn., 2nd Avn. Reg., 2nd Inf. Div.
After more than two weeks of training, the field training exercise ended Dec. 17 with the Half Attack Soldiers and their Families confident in their abilities and equipment.