U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade took to the sky and engaged targets above the installation’s newest aerial gunnery range on Fort Bragg, N.C., according to a statement issued by 49th Public Affairs Detachment.
The $45 million range, which opened earlier this year, is the newest and most advanced aerial gunnery range in the U.S. Army, said Wolf Amacker, an installation range officer.
The more than 1,100 acre range has over 460 targets controlled by a team in the observation tower, which is equipped with cameras and computers that generate printouts of where the target is struck.
Being able to train in your backyard and get feedback in real-time with this type of technology increases the readiness of the battalion, brigade and division, said Maj. Joy Nickel, an operations officer assigned to the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 82nd CAB, 82nd Abn. Div.
“This aerial gunnery is 100% essential for us to be trained and ready. Everything we’re doing at any second is about readiness,” said Maj. Joy Nickel, an operations officer assigned to the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 82nd CAB, 82nd Abn. Div.. “And this is the most critical gateway for readiness for us.”
The range strengthens the air crew’s skills by making them more proficient and protective. Because it allows for creative scenarios and dynamics, it gives leaders the opportunity to build decision making skills under stress to better support ground forces, said Nickel.
The aerial gunnery range training increases readiness for more than just the pilots firing 30 mm rounds from the Apache’s mounted weapons system. The training also involves ground personnel that support the aviation crew by establishing forward arming and refueling points during combat operations.
Everything done during the training is what would be expected on a deployment. From fuelers to ammunition specialists to communications and logistics, the training supports the 82nd Abn. Div. mission of “Jump, fight and win,” said Nickel.
“The critical piece is fight and win. This range allows us to train to do just that. It’s where we can really hone the skills to fight and win.”