Story by SSG Brian Schroeder on 06/17/2019LEXINGTON, Oklahoma Oklahoma Army National Guard aviators with the 2nd Battalion, 245th Aviation Regiment conducted a multi-ship training operation in support of state university ROTC programs April 12.
The UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter aviators with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion (Assault Helicopter Battalion), 244th Aviation Regiment from Tulsa, and CH-47 Chinook helicopter aviators with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion (General Support Aviation Battalion), 149th Aviation Regiment from Lexington, Oklahoma, flew Army and Air Force ROTC cadets from the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and the University of Central Oklahoma to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, as part of a field exercise for the cadets.
Although the main cargo on the flights was future leaders of the U.S. Army, the mission was also a rare chance for Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters to fly together in a stateside training mission.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Logan Russell, Chinook pilot with Bravo Company, 2-149th GSAB, said he had been on similar missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not stateside. As the flight lead for this mission, Russell said a training opportunity like this typically only happens during a deployment or mobilization due to resources and separate training requirements.
"It's the first time in a long time we have done one this large with two Black Hawks and two Chinooks, operating out of separate facilities, coordinating over distance, then meeting up and accomplishing a precision-timed mission," Russell said. "That's why it's important for us to get to do this now. We are trying to do this more often so we can get all of our coordination synced up, all of our standards synced up so when we go do this we get better and better each time."
Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Rumple, UH-60M Black Hawk pilot with Charlie Company, 1-244th Assault Battalion, said the multi-ship missions were a daily occurrence while deployed, but has rarely trained with a different aircraft during his 10-year career as a military pilot.
"It's good to sync because [Chinook pilots] have different ways of doing things," Rumple said. "We have different battle books, different standards and different terminology we use. It's good to get us together and do missions like this so we learn from the things they do that we don't normally do, like formations and calls."
The different capabilities of each aircraft can put the aviators at a disadvantage and potentially jeopardize the mission. However, Russell said that training and learning the capabilities of all the aircraft and crews can greatly increase mission readiness and lethality of the unit.
"The benefit comes from us training and learning each other's capabilities and advantages of each aircraft, and knowing how to go and accomplish the mission with that knowledge," Russell said. "We definitely want to continue to get better at it and continue to keep that coordination going so we can improve the coordination and the aspects of the mission itself. At the end of the day, you are still doing the same job, but it's how you do it."