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HWIC and gunnery 2010

Between September 20 and October 01, 2010, a number of Dutch helicopters of the DHC (Defensie Helicopter Commando, Defense Helicopter Command) trained in the German exercise area Bergen-Hohne (located between Hannover and Hamburg).
Normally these helicopters are based at Gilze-Rijen airbase (ICAO code EHGR) but during the exercise the Boeing AH-64 Apache’s (301 Sqaudron), Boeing CH-47 Chinook’s (298 Squadron) en AeroSpatiale AS532 Cougar’s (300 Squadron) are based during the night at nearby Fassberg airfield (ICAO code ETHS).
But during the day the helicopters are based ‘out in the fields’ at the FARP (Forward Arming and Refueling Point), were groundcrew maintained, refueled and rearmed the helicopters before and after the missions. The Bergen-Hohne training area consists of a semi-confined area, enclosed with a 65 kilometer ringroad, the ‘Panzerringstrasse’. The gunnery ranges are closed for the general public, but most roads inside the area are freely accessible. The Panzerringstrasse is used by tanks and other military vehicles, mixed by local cars, trucks and buses. This area contains some 25 gunnery ranges that are used for live firing with guns, canons, tanks and helicopters.
The 2010 exercise was a combined exercise, a live gunnery exercise for the Apache crews and a practice exercise for the Dutch students of the HWIC 'Helicopter Weapons Instructor Course' , which started last August.

During the visit to Bergen-Hohne, the HWIC did not have flying activities, only the Apache helicopters were active that day. On gunnery range number 20, 4 Apaches flew various missions during the morning whereby they fired the 30mm canon (the Hughes M230 Chain Gun) and they fired 30mm unguided dummy missiles (regular unguided rockets without a warhead) onto groundtargets. Before firing the canon, the pilots first calibrated the cannon (called ‘bore-sighting’) with the helmet-mounted vizer.
Then various patterns were flown at different levels, during most pattern the cannons and the unguided rockets were fired. Most patterns started at low level, increasing the height with every pattern. Sometimes nothing was fired and the groundtargets were only inspected visiually. After the gunneries, 2 helicopters took off for their trip back home to Gilze-Rijen. Normally these gunnery and field exercises are held twice per year for 2 weeks, but budget-cuts will probably change this to a 3 week exercise only once per year. With all Afghanistan based helicopters being transferred back to the Netherlands in the last quarter of 2010, these field exercises will be used by more pilots and helicopters than before.

All photo's:
G.J.A. van Boven
H.P.A.M van Eupen
© Sentry Aviation News

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