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South Carolina welcomes the Longbow

13th July 2009 - 21:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


The South Carolina Army National Guard's 1st of the 151st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB) recently held the rollout ceremony of their newest Apache against the backdrop of the AH-64D Apache Longbow.

The ceremony took place here at the Army Air Support Facility on McEntire Joint National Guard Base.

The 1st of the 151st is just the second unit in the Army National Guard inventory to receive the Longbow.

Lt. Col. Jakie R. Davis Jr., commander of the 1st of the 151st (ARB), was proud to announce the arrival of the new Apaches.

"With this ceremony, we take another step forward in the development of our capabilities as warriors," said Davis. "I truly pity the next adversary these brave warriors face on the battlefield while flying the AH64D Longbow."

The 1st of the 151st has anticipated the arrival of the new Apaches and on the morning of Feb. 20, the first Longbows arrived.

"It was a long process to get the Apache Longbow here," said Driggs. "But because of the strength and proven success of the 1st of the 151st, there was no doubt that they were going to get the new Apache."

The Longbows have dramatically improved capabilities over previous Apache models. They can see and attack enemies from farther distances, keeping the aircrew and the aircraft safer.

"For situational awareness, this is an excellent aircraft," said Capt. Pete Wright of Co. A, 1st of the 151st. "It's far easier to put an attack frame together and put steel on target."

The video and navigation capabilities are also greatly improved. These and a host of other improvements will better enable the South Carolina National Guard to react to and complete any mission they are assigned.

"With the new FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) system, we can watch people and observe them farther than they can hear us flying," said Warrant Officer 2 Joel Gooch, a pilot for C Company, 1st of the 151st. "If we can see it, we can shoot it."

The training program for the Longbow is between 18 months and two years. Every pilot has to go through the training, even if they are familiar with the older airframes because the Longbow technology and new features are so dramatically different.

New pilots are being trained solely on the AH64Ds, while pilots familiar with the older airframes are being retrained.

"It's a very pilot friendly aircraft," said Wright. "But there is just significantly more information that you have to take in. You have to prioritize the information, or you could get an overload."

Having successfully flown the AH-64A Apache in numerous military operations, including Operation Joint Endeavor, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the unit will now have the opportunity to continue their success with the AH-64D Longbow.

"In the long history of the 1st of the 151st, we have always been the best of the best," said Davis. "We have earned this aircraft through blood, sweat and tears. Now we are ready to strike and it's time to soar."

By Sgt. Tracci Dorgan and Spc. Brad Mincey - South Carolina National Guard


The Shephard News Team


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