"We started in the fall of 2012 by sending certain aviators to the "F" model qualification course," said Army Capt. Charles Eslinger, B Co. commander. "The remainder of our force left on Jan. 8 to complete the Net Fielding Training on our five new Chinooks."
The two-month qualification course, wrapping up March 8, is conducted by a mobile training team that moves the upgraded helicopters to the training site and oversees the hands on training, Eslinger said. The unit personnel have signed for the aircraft at the training site and are now becoming familiar with the equipment. They will ultimately fly the upgraded Chinooks back to the Army Aviation Support Facility in St. Cloud.
"It's pretty neat because they're getting flight time, signing for and inventorying the Chinooks and doing maintenance training on them," Eslinger said. "Most units, when they get new aircraft, they don't get the opportunity to train in an organized training environment."
One of the largest differences between the two models is the cockpit's new multifunctional display, which consists of five 8-inch by 5-inch monitors, Eslinger said. The digitalized system, which replaces all old gauges and systems information displays found in the "D" model, shows advanced avionics and navigations systems and allows the pilots to page through different information displays.
"It's almost information overload at first when going from the 'D' cockpit to the 'F' cockpit, but overall it enhances the pilot's situational awareness" Eslinger said.
Another upgrade is the addition of the flight director system, which can be coupled with the aircraft systems to take control and execute the flight plan while the pilots manipulate and monitor the aircraft's performance, he said.
"Essentially, we enter the information and the system takes these parameters that we want on the flight - altitude, airspeed, waypoints, etc. - and flies these parameters when the system is engaged," Eslinger said. "It is an incredible capability to see the aircraft respond to the digital inputs right before our eyes without us directly changing the controls."
The "F" model also boasts several significant structural upgrades, Eslinger said. In addition to enhanced engine mounts and sheet metal features, the Chinook's rear pylon has been upgraded to shorten the disassembly and reassembly time required to move the Chinook helicopters to theaters around the world.
"Normally when we move and ship the aircraft, it takes us almost a full day," Eslinger said. "Now we can do it much faster - within hours."
Though the two-month school will make all of the unit's Soldiers proficient and qualified to operate and maintain the "F" model, training won't stop when they return from Fort Stewart, Eslinger said.
"After spinning up our guys, we're going to start flying on a regular basis to completely transition from 'D' to 'F,'" he said. "Our mission will be to become proficient with the Foxtrot, which will take some time. We'll have to come up with different operating procedures and learn how to utilize the different features of the aircraft."
Eslinger said he anticipates comprehensive training flights to take place during the unit's 2013 annual training at Camp Ripley in June.
Posted: 2015-05-25 09:30 AM
In a nation struggling with war fatigue, it's important to pause on Memorial Day and recognize the Minnesotans still answering their country's call: men and women who leave their jobs and families to put on a military uniform.
Few military units have seen more activations and deployments since 9/11 than Minnesota's 133rd Airlift Wing -- its 1,200 members are essential to moving supplies and soldiers to wherever they're needed.
On part of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport where few civilian passengers step, families feel the anxiety of separation as they say goodbye again to air crew flying far, far away.
Posted: 2015-05-22 11:44 AM
CAMP RIPLEY - Garrison staff of Camp Ripley and other members of the Minnesota National Guard will take part in events this weekend honoring those who died in service to the United States.
"As members of the local community, we are honored to participate in Memorial Day events," said Lt. Col. Chad Sackett, deputy garrison commander at Camp Ripley. "It is right and fitting that we recognize and honor the service and sacrifice of those who died in service to our nation."
Minnesota National Guard members are speaking at events throughout the Memorial Day weekend. For those interested in attending a Memorial Day ceremony, here are a few of the listings for central Minnesota:
Posted: 2015-05-22 08:00 AM ST. PAUL, Minn. - More than five years after Pfc. Kham See Xiong lost his life in a mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, the Xiong family received his Purple Heart in a Ceremony during Hmong American Day in St. Paul, Minn.
"Kham was an American Solider, a Hmong-American who raised his right hand and swore to defend the constitution of the United States, a Hero," said keynote speaker Brig. Gen. Kent D. Savre, Fort Leonard Wood commanding general. Savre served as commander of the 36th Engineer Brigade at Fort Hood during the attack.
Four hundred members of the Hmong and St. Paul community crowded into the Harriet Island Pavilion as rain fell, May 14, 2015, to witness the Purple Heart Ceremony.
Posted: 2015-05-21 03:44 PM HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah - Approximately 180 Airmen and Block 50 F-16's from the 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. participated in an exercise known as Combat Hammer while at Hill AFB, Utah in early May 2015. Combat Hammer is a Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) that evaluates weapon systems in their entirety.
While the exercise was about a week long for most 148FW Airmen, it was quite a bit longer for those Airmen actually building the bombs and missiles. "Typically, we are one of the first assets to show up at a deployment," said 2nd Lt. Mylii Pukema, 148FW Munitions Officer. "We show up about a week before most everyone else, so we can build up the weapons and have them ready when the jets arrive."
"It's a common misconception that weapons come already built," said Pukema. "Different weapons have different levels of configuration that have to happen. It can be a lot of detail that goes into configuring a weapon or it can be relatively simple, it just depends on the mission."
148FW Munition's Airmen were evaluated from the time the weapon came out of the box. How they practiced safety and followed tech data during the building of the weapon were key components to the evaluation process.