View Full Version : New UH-1Ys get ready for tour in Afghanistan

09-13-2009, 11:33 AM
New UH-1Ys used in ‘enhanced’ training

By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Sep 13, 2009 9:17:21 EDT

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. — As an AV-8B Harrier attack jet roared overhead, Marines readied about two dozen helicopters and jets for their next missions.

The large collection of aircraft — including six new UH-1Y Super Huey utility helicopters — was assembled at the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center in mid-August and injected the biggest dose of firepower yet to “enhanced” Mojave Viper training. EMV, as Marines call it, is the latest iteration of the monthlong live-fire exercise required for ground combat units heading to war. About 4,500 Marines took part in the August exercises, which marked the first time in years that such a large Marine air-ground task force had gathered at this desert base, trainers said.

Enhanced Mojave Viper, at 28 days, includes more conventional types of warfare missions and tasks — live-fire defensive operations, for example — that had faded from the training syllabus, and it marks a slight shift from training centered largely on urban warfare and counterinsurgency.

“We’ve got a whole generation of people who have been to combat but haven’t been trained to the core competencies,” said Maj. Mark Brown, assistant operations officer with Tactical Training Exercise Control Group, the “Coyotes” who plan and control EMV. “It’s getting back to enforcing the basics.”

Officials created EMV by taking Desert Talon, the Corps’ pre-deployment training for air combat and support elements held in Yuma, Ariz., and adding a sizable logistical support element.

Mojave Viper as Marines know it isn’t going away, but “it is evolving,” Brown noted. Officials expect to run four enhanced exercises annually that include sizable air combat elements, he said.

About 350 Marines and sailors with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367 came to Twentynine Palms for final evaluation ahead of the “Scarface” squadron’s deployment to Afghanistan, where its four-blade Super Hueys will operate for the first time in a combat zone.

Lt. Col. Michael Borgschulte, HMLA-367’s commander, brought six UH-1Ys and 11 AH-1W Super Cobras to the combat center’s expeditionary airfield, an hour’s flight from their home tarmac on the air station at Camp Pendleton north of San Diego.

The squadron’s helicopters often fly to the desert for short visits to support ground combat missions, but this time Scarface pilots, crew chiefs and maintainers ate MREs, slept in tents in the open desert and drank from water bulls.

It was the type of Spartan living Borgschulte said he wanted his men and women to experience before they head to Afghanistan, where they will replace HMLA-169.

“Afghanistan is certainly not Iraq,” he said. “We’re going to be living in tents, on cots, with limited assets. We won’t have fancy hangars. Right now, they are working on the birds outside.”

On a day when the temperature topped 100 degrees, 22-year-old Lance Cpl. John Murphy said he was thinking of the winter ahead.

“Afghanistan is going to be cold,” the airframe and hydraulic mechanic said. “I’ll see what it’s ultimately like to work on aircraft in the cold environment.” Marines said they are bracing for a rougher existence.

“I do plan for the worst and pray for the best,” said Staff Sgt. Heath Dierks, a helicopter electrician who has been to Iraq. “We’re taking a lot of Marines who have only deployed to Iraq, with air-conditioned cans and Internet access.” Afghanistan, Dierks said, “is going to be a culture shock.”

Scarface will take nine Yankee Hueys into combat. The helicopters’ larger payload, extra power, speed and lift will put it in demand.

The integrated enhanced exercise gave squadrons and aviation detachments an opportunity to talk and work with their ground or logistical counterparts, sometimes in the same room or tent. The move was lauded by pilots and crew chiefs alike.

“Ultimately,” said Capt. William Smith, a Huey pilot, “we support the lance corporal on the deck who needs our help.”

09-13-2009, 11:58 AM
Awesome. Hopefully it will perform well.