NEWS | Oct. 26, 2016

Landing Afloat

By Sgt. Aaron Ellerman U.S. Army Central

Soldiers assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment, 77th Combat Aviation Brigade, conducted deck landings in the Arabian Gulf Oct. 11-12. The UH-60 Blackhawk and AH-64 Apache crews took turns landing their aircraft aboard the USNS Alan Shepard to qualify their crews in this type of maneuver.

Army pilots and air crew of several different types of rotary aircraft have taken advantage of this unique training opportunity during their deployment to Kuwait.  

“Attaining and maintaining the skills required to land on a ship at sea is a task mostly associated with Navy and Marine Aviators. It’s usually not practiced by Army aviators because the lack of assets and money,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bohuslav J. Humplik, 77th CAB pilot and Liaison to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

Humplik explained that operating aircraft over water during both daylight and darkness is a great training opportunity for Army aviators because it presents challenges to navigation, communication and logistics.

“As the military gets funded less and stretched more, tasks that were the responsibility of other branches need to be picked up by whoever is there, so we train more to do more with less,” said Humplik.

Conducting joint operations between Navy and Army units is critical to the improvement of joint planning and coordination capabilities.

“It’s nice to see the Army guys out here practicing these maneuvers. It truly shows our capabilities as a joint force,” said Petty Officer 1st class Christian Diamante, coastal reserve group 2 member and chief of the guard for the USNS Alan Shepard.  

Humplik said that the joint training exercise was a great way to expand the teams’ skill sets and helped them work to identify issues before involvement in a real operation. 

“We worked with U.S. Army Central and NAVCENT months in advance to coordinate the aircraft and ships movements, fuel onboard the ship, and clearances for the airspace,” said Humplik.

Each pilot was required to make 5 approaches and landings during both day and night segments to obtain a qualification in the maneuver.

Upon completion of the qualifications each aircraft was refueled by the USNS crew. 

“When we have to do a real mission whether it be search and rescue, refueling, or evacuation it’s nice to know that everyone is better prepared and can work efficiently together because of these types of trainings,” said Diamante.