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Alaska National Guard UH-60 aviators training at MCAS Yuma

Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk aviators are training at the Marine Corps Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course at MCAS Yuma.
UH-60L Black Hawk and CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters flying at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.
U.S. Marine Corps photo.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk aviators and the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence are training at the Marine Corps Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, Arizona.

The Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 is hosting the training March 4 through April 20. It’s the first time U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk crews (other than Special Forces) have taken part in the highly competitive and rigorous joint training course, often called the “Top Gun” of Marine Corps Aviation

Unlike the Navy’s Top Gun, which focuses on air-to-air combat, the WTI course trains the complex integration of all Marine aviation assets, ground forces, command and control systems, logistics, and air defense assets. 

According to the Marine Corps website, the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course “is a fully integrated course of instruction for highly experienced and fully qualified officers from all aviation communities. Officers from ground combat, combat support, and combat service support also attend the course to ensure appropriate air-ground interface.”

The combined Army aviation detachment comprises about 18 Soldiers — 14 from the Alaska Army National Guard. An Alaska Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III transported two AKARNG UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in early March to participate in the course.

Two active-duty aviators from U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Novosel, Alabama, are taking part in the course alongside the Alaska Guardsmen. The Utah Army National Guard provided a spare UH-60L Black Hawk and two Guardsmen to assist with maintenance.

During the seven-week course, the two Army aircrews will train with members of the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. The two hoist-capable Black Hawks with extended-range fuel tanks will fly a rigorous schedule of simulated combat missions with U.S., allied and opposing force fixed-wing and rotary aircraft.

Lessons learned will assist the Army in evolving its aviation training methodology and combat tactics as it trains to counter a near-peer threat.

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