CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea --- Aircrews from the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade acquired a special qualification recently when they conducted Deck Landing Qualifications with their 2nd Republic of Korea Fleet Naval counterparts on Feb. 27 -- 28.
Pilots and crews from 3rd Battalion 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion and 2nd Battalion 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion flying UH-60 Blackhawk and the CH-47 Chinook aircraft completed a series of seven take-offs and landings from the deck of the Republic of Korea Ship Dokdo, an amphibious assault ship stationed off the west coast in the Yellow Sea.
According to the U.S. doctrine, aircrews must perform five iterations to become deck-landing qualified. In South Korea, however, the standard is higher--seven take-offs and landings to become Deck Landing Qualified with ROK Navy.
"These qualifications are very important to the pilots and the mission of the 2nd Infantry Division as they ensure better capabilities overall for the 2nd CAB," said Capt. Andrew Tehvand, a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot and Assistant Operations Officer of 3-2 GSAB.
"This qualification exercise provides us with the opportunity to land our heavy-lift Chinooks and our MEDEVAC aircraft onto the ship. This gives 2ID the ability to launch an operation from a ship to shore, and give the MEDEVAC aircraft the ability to land in case of an emergency."
The ability to land safely on a moving ship strengthens readiness throughout the 2nd Infantry Division and adds an important component to our joint US-ROK capabilities.
"I believe it expands our mission set and provides us with the opportunity to work with the ROK Navy," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Hollister Thomas, an instructor pilot in Charlie Medical Evacuation Company.
"I think it's important that we support them and continue to support them," said Thomas. "We've always had a great working relationship."
Upon completion of all seven repetitions for each air crew, the ship's crew checked and refueled each U.S. aircraft while the pilots and crewmembers switched.
The exercise trained 24 pilots and 26 crewmembers from 3-2 GSAB--including one pilot and four crew members under Night Vision Goggles--as well as eight pilots and two crewmembers from 2-2 AHB. Two pilots and two crew members trained with NVGs.
"The ROK Navy and the crew have been incredible and very accommodating with what they can give us, it has been a pleasure to work with them," Tehvand said.
Dokdo is the largest vessel in the ROK Navy and carries a crew of 330. It acts as a helicopter landing platform and can accommodate five Blackhawks on its flight deck at a time. It can also support vertical take-off and landing jets. The vessel provides command and control and supports landing operations with high-speed Landing Craft Air Cushioned. It is about 653 feet long, 102 feet wide and displaces 18,000 tons when fully loaded. The Dokdo can carry up to 200 vehicles and more than 700 Marines.