SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
There's no denying the CH-47 Chinook helicopter is a beast of an aircraft. Introduced into service in 1962, the multi-mission, heavy-lift transport helicopter is legendary for its ability to move cargo, ammunition, troops, and virtually any type of supplies anywhere, anytime.
And, when the military's heavy lifting requires service in a combat environment, the Chinook has the capability of laying down some firepower as well. Recently, 10 CH-47 crew members from Joint Task Force-Bravo's 1-228th Aviation Regiment conducted live-fire aerial gunnery training and weapons familiarization, firing more than 800 rounds each from the Chinook.
"In a combat environment we outfit the aircraft with three M240 machine guns, one on the ramp and two at the crew chief stations up front," said U.S. Army Sgt. Shelby Hansen, a flight engineer and unit gunnery trainer assigned to the 1-228th Aviation Regiment.
"The purpose is for suppression. Our mission in the CH-47 is cargo and troop transport. We aren't an attack aircraft."
During the training, crew members rotated out of two forward crew chief stations. An M240 was mounted on both sides of the aircraft. Hansen and fellow gunnery trainer U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Glen Haynie observed each individual identifying the target and firing the weapon. Hansen and Haynie also worked to maintain safety throughout the training.
Crew members are required to fire the M240 semi-annually in order to maintain proper currency on the weapon. According to Haynie, this training is a vital part of serving as crew member on the Chinook.
"It's absolutely critical to fire the weapon on a regular basis," said Haynie. "Crew members need to stay current on the weapon system. It's part of performing crew duties, and it's essential for overall safety and mission accomplishment."