AL ASAD, Iraq -- The strength and power of the CH-53E Super Stallion were demonstrated again May 2, when a helicopter from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 moved hulks of Russian armored vehicles from the airfield here to a test firing range.
The old and rusted vehicles, used by the Iraqi army at one point, are now targets for aircrews to fire their weapons on when conducting operational checks.
A few days before the mission, landing support specialists from Combat Logistics Battalion 2 picked up several hulks with a crane to test how they might swing from a moving helicopter. The squadron’s director of safety and standardization certified six vehicles as safe for the 33,000-pound helicopter to lift and transport.
A helicopter support team rigged the vehicles using chains and ropes a couple of hours before the lifts and later hooked them to the helicopter as it hovered overhead. One by one, the helicopter moved hulks weighing from 14,000 to 24,000 pounds.
1st Lt. Theodore R. Smith, landing support platoon commander with Transportation Support Company, CLB-2 said moving the hulks was a two-fold mission: it provided large targets for aircrews to fire at and cleared up some of the airfield.
Capt. Doug Carr, ground training officer and CH-53E pilot with the squadron, said using a helicopter to move the “eyesores” eliminated putting Marines’ lives at risk, avoided damaging humvees, 7-ton trucks or other ground transportation equipment in an unfamiliar area and saved time in accomplishing the mission.
“We got it done in a couple of hours,” said Carr, a Mascoutah, Ill., native. “Moving them by truck would have required to load each one on a flat bed big enough and drive them outside the base where other Marines would have been needed to provide protection. There are no roads out there and there’s a probability of popping tires or getting stuck.”
Smith, originally from Bremerton, Wash., said other advantages of using the CH-53E were less downtime on the firing range and the opportunity for landing support specialists to conduct static loads, rig and hook up hulks of Russian armored vehicles, which is gear they would never find in the United States.
The “Warhorse” of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 is here to support the mission of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) by providing assault support and re-supply capabilities for all the forward operating bases around western Iraq.
- For more information about the Marines reported on in this story, please contact Sgt. Juan Vara by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org -