2-285th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Arizona Army National Guard, performed a 12-ship formation flight March 8 in Phoenix as the unit gears up for their upcoming deployment.
US Army, March 09, 2015 - PHOENIX by Sgt Lauren Twigg - More than 40 pilots and crew members from the 2-285th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, from the Arizona Army National Guard, performed a 12-ship formation flight during training March 8 in Phoenix, as the unit gears up for their upcoming deployment.
"This was a unique opportunity for us to have a large formation, and see our operational capabilities in action," said Maj. Christopher Kuzinski, battalion commander. "It put our readiness to the test,"
The unit, consisting of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, is preparing for a yearlong deployment to Kosovo in support of ongoing peacekeeping missions, and Kuzinski said the last time a formation like this occurred was for the unit's deployment to Iraq in 2009 with 10 aircraft in formation.
"This will be the only opportunity we will have to do something like this, from an operational standpoint, prior to our upcoming deployment to Kosovo," Kuzinski said. “It’s important for the Soldiers and command to see where our strengths and weaknesses are as a whole, and this was a great way of doing it.”
During the planning stages of this exercise, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tyler Fricke, the maintenance officer of the unit, said that despite a mechanical issue with one of the aircraft, operations were able to continue due to the heightened vigilance of maintenance crew.
“The fact that we could make this happen, react to unscheduled maintenance and still manage to get all 12 aircraft up is proof that we have got the best maintainers, and I would put them up against any organization out there,” Fricke said.
As with any training exercise, the teamwork that takes place is a big piece of making sure the mission is successful. Kuzinski said it was a huge team effort - from the pilots to the fuelers, it took everyone to make it happen.
However, Fricke pointed out that the morale boost that comes from the Soldiers being able to see their finished product is just as rewarding.
“This gives the Soldiers a sense of pride, that they collectively came together and made something extremely rare occur,” Fricke said. “The morale was really high and that was the biggest benefit to accomplishing what we did today.”
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Arizona National Guard US Army Aviation