Calling for Back Up: Close-Air Support
Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron HMLA-267 “Stingers” conducted a close-air-support training mission at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in California
US Marine Corps, June 10, 2016 - TWENTYNINE PALMS, CA by Sgt Lillian Stephens - Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 267 “Stingers” conducted a close-air-support training mission in conjunction with Marines from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, June 10.
Marines on the ground refined their abilities as Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, which required them to contact friendly aircraft, communicate threat locations and direct those aircraft to engage simulated targets.
“Working with the Marines on the ground forces us to react to the real time situation so we get the coordination going within the cockpit really well,” said Capt. Christopher Millar, a UH-1Y Huey pilot with HMLA-267 and a St. Louis native. “It’s good to practice anytime we can.”
From the air, Marines with HMLA-267 provided two light attack air assets, a Huey and an AH-1Z Viper. Together, they practiced finding and engaging simulated targets over a period of several hours.
“Anytime we’re working with the guys on the ground, it helps us … react to real time situations versus just having to make the scenario up ourselves,” said Millar.
According to Lance Cpl. Servando Avila, a crew chief with HMLA-267 and a Houston native, his role was to act as an extra pair of eyes for the pilot, observing the location of other aircraft and simulated targets.
“As a crew chief, it’s important because it helps me understand and know what I’m going to do out in the field,” said Avila. “This is just simulated training, but when it comes to real life, it helps me prepare for any situations that may come.”
Bell AH-1Z Viper 168526 ( US Marine Corps )