New York Army National Guard Aviators Help Canadian Airmen Train For Afghanistan
New York Army National Guard State Aviation Officer and Aviation Brigade Commander , Col Michael Bobeck; New York Army National Guard Captain Eric Fritz, Instructor Pilot ; Canadian Forces Captain Martin Lefrançois, 430 Squadron pilot; and members of the Canadian Forces and New York Army National Guard.
ROCHESTER, NY (01/19/2009)-- Aviators of Rochester-based B Co. 3rd Battalion 126 Aviation, who spent ten months flying missions in Afghanistan, are training Canadian airmen on flying the CH-47 "Chinook" helicopter in preparation for their coming deployment to that country. Members of the media are invited to meet with American and Canadian aircrew and leaders as the two-week training program concludes. Media availability to meet with leaders of this joint Canadian-American training activity and discuss what has been going on during the training period, which began on Monday, Jan. 12. Members of the press will get a chance to speak to Canadian and American aircrew who will discuss their experiences. Visual opportunities will be there for still photo and videographers.
11 a.m., Wednesday, Jan 21, 2009.
Patriot Way Armory, Army Aviation Flight Facility #2, 76 Patriot Way,Rochester, NY 14624 ( Across from the terminal at Rochester International Airport.)VISUALS: Members of the New York Army National Guard and Canadian Forces will provide interviews. Media will be able to observe American and Canadian personnel conducting joint walk around inspections of aircraft. An aircraft will be launched to demonstrate the training that has been underway.
The Canadian Forces will soon begin operating six leased Chinook heavy-lift helicopters in support of the Canadian mission in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Because these aircraft are already in Afghanistan and are not available for training the National Guard Bureau, the federal agency which oversees National Guard training, asked the New York Army National Guard's Chinook unit, B Co. 3-126 Aviation, to help provide training for 12 Canadian airmen. The Canadian aircrews have been practicing day and night flying with their American counterparts. Recent snowfall has allowed them to practice landing in snow, which simulates the dust of an Afghan mountaintop, said Capt. Eric Fritz, the instructor pilot who devised the training plan.
The first week was devoted to day operations, while the second week has been spent perfecting night flying skills. Two of the New York Army National Guard's massive CH-47 helicopter, have been used for the training missions. The training flights have taken place within 100 miles of the Rochester Army flight facility.
The training will climax with a simulated air assault exercise. In an air assault, helicopters insert infantry soldiers, often under fire, behind enemy lines.
The Canadians are from 430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, based in Valcartier, Quebec; which normally supports 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group; and 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron from Edmonton, Alberta. That squadron normally supports 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group.
Both squadrons normally operate the CH-146 Griffon helicopter, which is similar to the American UH-1 "Huey" operated extensively during the Vietnam War.
B Co. 3rd Battalion 126th Aviation:
Based at the New York Army National Guard's Aviation Flight Facility #2 at the Patriot Way Armory in Rochester, the unit provides heavy lift helicopter capability. Fifty-five members of the unit were mobilized in May 2007 and deployed to Afghanistan in September 2007. They returned in April of 2008. While in Afghanistan they flew a variety of missions in support of American and coalition forces. The CH-47 Chinooks are especially useful in the high mountains of Afghanistan where smaller helicopters do not function well.
Canadian Forces in Afghanistan:
Since January 2002 Canadian Forces have been involved in the American-led coalition warring against Al-Quada and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Since 2006 Canada has deployed a battle group of about 2,500 personnel in Kandahar Province under the command of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force or ISAF. Canadians have assisted in training the Afghan National Army and Police, and in civil reconstruction projects in that country and have fought alongside Americans. Canada has lost more than 100 soldiers during this mission.
CH-47D Chinook Helicopter:
The Chinook helicopters operated by B Company are operated by a crew of three-pilot, co-pilot and crew chief but can carry three more gunners in combat. The Chinook can fly at speeds of more than 130 miles per hour, and carry 30 soldiers and their equipment into battle. They can carry 28,000 pounds of cargo. In the sparse atmosphere of the Afghan plateaus they are the only helicopters that provide sufficient lift to move troops and cargo. Sixteen countries operate the Chinook with the United States Army being the largest user with 425 CH-47 D aircraft. The New York Army National Guard operates four Chinooks. They cost more than $10 million each in 1999.
Photo by 1st Sgt. Greg Kecken
On the tarmac in Afghanistan, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter operated by the 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation waits for another mission. New York Army National Guard Soldiers are training Canadian Airmen to operate this type of helicopter in combat.
Members of the media who wish to enter this secure military facility must contact Eric Durr in the Division of Military and Naval Affairs Press Office at 518-786-4581 or SFC Steve Petibone (on site) at 518-225-6637.
Attachments:CH-47D In Afghanistan
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