Alaska Army Guard aviators participate in competitive Marine Corps tactical training program

Alaska Army Guard aviators participate in competitive Marine Corps tactical training program

YUMA, Ariz. (KTUU) – From the skies of the Alaskan tundra to the deserts of Arizona, a team of 14 Soldiers from the Alaska Army National Guard’s (AKARNG) 207th Wing Headquarters takes off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. He recently joined the Marine Corps Air Corps. Corps Weapons Tactics Instructor (WTI) Course at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.

The Alaska National Guard’s participation, sponsored by Marine Air Weapons Tactical Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1), marks the first time that an Army Black Hawk unit other than Special Forces has participated in the program.

Over a competitive seven-week course, the unit will operate two UH-60L Blackhawk helicopters in conjunction with other fixed-wing and rotary aircraft from other participating military branches in 16 increasingly challenging simulated combat exercises. was flown. The astronauts gained more than 144 hours of flight time in the process.

Because the WTI program is designed to equip Marine Corps aviation units with trainers adept at preparing squadrons for large-scale and diverse combat scenarios, joint force training is a key element of global security uncertainty. As military aviation continues to grow, it is contributing to the evolution of military aviation.

Col. Cody McKinney, an AKARNG UH-60 Black Hawk pilot and recent WTI graduate, said the Army-Marine Corps partnership increases combat effectiveness.

“The way the Marine Corps utilizes aviation assets is similar to, but very different from, the Army and requires not only Marine Corps doctrine, but also a deep knowledge of how aircraft are used and their capabilities.” McKinney said. “When you take the Army Aviation core competency and then the Marine Corps competency, layering them on top of each other gives you a very robust and capable aviation structure that is capable of conducting large-scale combat operations. Masu.”

During training operations, the two UH-60s were integrated into a heavy-lift CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter shop and later integrated with a Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom Super Huey.

The Alaska Air National Guard (AKANG) transported two AKARNG Black Hawk helicopters to Arizona via a 176th Wing C-17 Globemaster III.

McKinney said he has been training WTI for nearly two years.

“All of these different organizations gave up their best people, equipment and time to improve Army Aviation as a whole,” McKinney said. “We knew this was the pinnacle of rotary-wing aviation in the United States.”

The advanced tactical training improved the skills of the participating pilots as well as the mechanics. The Guard sent a team of UH-60 Black Hawk mechanics to service the aircraft, in response to a grueling training schedule of 12 hours a day, six days a week for nearly two months.

Hannah Kinder, a maintenance engineer with the specialized 207th Wing Headquarters, said the long flight combined with Arizona weather conditions put the Blackhawks to the ultimate test in terms of maintenance.

“When you get back to the flight line, you’re covered in sand and dust,” Kinder said. “We wipe them down and make sure they run smoothly for the next day.”

Kinder said the opportunity to work with senior mechanics in a much different environment than Alaska will benefit his skillset as a helicopter mechanic.

Col. Eric D. Purcell, commander of MAWTS-1, said the program’s purpose is to integrate all aspects of military aviation, including ground support, command and control, crew chiefs, other officers, and noncommissioned officers. He said there is. , states that graduates will become subject matter experts with the ability to command, lead and advise combat operations.

“If there’s going to be a war, it’s going to be a joint effort,” Purcell said.

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