By Spc. Nathanial MuthFebruary 28, 2012
FORT IRWIN, Calif. (Feb. 28, 2012) -- The gentle buzz of the MQM-170 Outlaw drone plane was suddenly halted by the explosion of a FIM-92 Stinger missile as Soldiers from I Battery, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment conducted a Stinger live-fire exercise at the National Training Center.
The purpose of the exercise was to the prepare Soldiers on how to engage hostile aircraft. It also provided the opportunity for I Battery to field their equipment and make sure it is mission-capable.
"The training gives the Soldiers a chance to fire a live Stinger missile, which is what they all want to do," said 1st Lt. Jacob Ferrara, the executive officer of I Battery. "This training also builds a Soldier's confidence so that they can go out there and conduct their mission, which is to deny enemy air assets and key terrain assets."
Before any of the soldiers could participate in the live-fire exercise, they had to complete Table 8 Certification. The certification process includes crew drills, visual aircraft recognition, a road march and Army Physical Fitness Test. There is also a simulation that requires them to identify and engage four out of five fixed-wing and rotary-wing targets.
The Soldiers performed a detailed inspection of the missile they were about to fire and then went to the tracking pit, where they composed themselves before the big moment. The teams then drove their Humvee with a loaded missile to the firing pit. After they unloaded, the gunners carried their missiles to the firing pit with their team chiefs guiding them. They then tracked the Outlaw drones and fired once they had it in their sights.
"I was pretty nervous," said Pfc. Keith Palmer, the top gunner of the training. "It was my first time shooting."
"The training went really well," said Ferrara. "It all came together thanks to the non-commissioned officers, platoon leaders, and the master gunner out there working hard together to accomplish the mission."
"It was a great event and we look forward to doing it again next year."