Soto Cano AB, Honduras — Members of Joint Task Force-Bravo completed deck-landing qualifications aboard the USS Wasp Oct. 2-5 off the coast of Costa Rica part of a training event that allowed CH-47 Chinook pilots with the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment to maintain proficiencies while working closely with U.S. Navy partners to improve joint interoperability.
The training affirmed the pilots’ ability to land on the deck of a moving ship, a skill that is critical to enabling the movement of resources from land to sea during contingency operations.
“In a natural disaster or emergency situation off the coast somewhere, this training ensures we would be able to land a Chinook to deliver much-needed supplies,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Chris Denson, Bravo Company standardization pilot. “And those supplies can be delivered faster. Most of the time, a shorter response time means saving lives.”
The training exercise was mutually beneficial to both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy. Not only did the CH-47F pilots get valuable training by landing on a moving ship, the Sailors who marshaled the aircraft on the deck gained valuable training by working with another branch’s aviators.
“There’s a physical difference between our Chinook and a Navy helicopter,” Denson said. “The Navy rotated all of their deck crew members through the training to get as many trained on securing an Army Chinook to the deck of a ship as possible.”
Inter-service events like this help service members maintain the ability to respond quickly to crises, if needed. JTF-Bravo is U.S. Southern Command’s forward expeditionary force in Central America, and maintaining the proficiencies of its primary lift capability is critical to retaining a stable and enduring presence in the region.
Because of this training, JTF-Bravo has three of the only five currently qualified deck-landing instructor pilots in the U.S. Army.
“The joint training not only provided expanded capability for our presence in Central America, but it was also invaluable for every service member involved,” Denson said.