US Army, July 25, 2014 - USS PELELIU, At Sea by Sgt. Jessica DuVernay, 25th CAB - AH-64E Apache Guardians from 1st Armed Reconnaissance Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, conducted deck landing qualifications aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) off the coast of Hawaii, July 19, as part of the Navy’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.
The deck landing qualifications, a first for the E model of the Apache, are one of several maritime training events the Apache unit participated in to take advantage of terrain not available to them in their home station at Fort Carson, Colorado.
According to Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew Gottschling, a company instructor pilot with 1-25 ARB, before the deck landing qualifications and other maritime training could take place for the pilots, instructors were trained and certified through the U.S. Army Evaluations and Standards Department.
“With all the deck training, the reason it’s interesting and different is because the Apache is a land-based piece of equipment,” said Gottschling. “By training us how to do the ship landings on a larger ship, it enables us to forward project our force by doing the cross training with the Navy and the Marines.”
A primary goal of the joint training is to build greater maritime flexibility for the Pacific joint commander to utilize when determining capabilities during mission planning.
“It allows us to land on their ships, refuel, rearm and project power further forward as opposed to just being a land-based unit,” Gottschling explained. “It just gives us additional capabilities and additional experience. In the event of conflict, we would be able to deploy our aircraft via a ship to land and be able to operate in a maritime environment.”
This is the first time the E model of the Apache has conducted deck landing qualifications, and the event was even more historical as this is the first time any Apache model has deployed to Hawaii or participated in a Rim of the Pacific exercise.
“We came out here in support of RIMPAC, but also to see how we integrate with the rest of 25th CAB,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ian Corbin-Deutsch, aviation life support equipment officer, 1-25 AVN. “With us being out at Fort Carson, away from our home unit, presented a bunch of challenges and it’s nice to finally be a part of the unit.”
The eight Apaches still have some training ahead of them before returning to Fort Carson. Four of the Apaches are scheduled to push further into the Pacific for the Pacific Pathways exercise. The other four aircraft are scheduled to conduct training at the Pohakuloa Training Area in Hawaii prior to returning to Fort Carson in mid August.