News: Lock, load with VMM-163
Story by Pfc. Raquel Barraza
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. –Marines shoot hundreds of rounds from the GAU-16/ A Cal. 50 Machine Gun to take out targets, but the catch is these Marines are miles above the ground.
Pilots and crew chiefs with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 conducted initial tail gun training aboard the Yuma Range Training Complex east of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Sept. 18.
This training is the first step crew chiefs take to begin using ramp-mounted weapons like the GAU-16/ A Cal. 50 Machine Gun.
“This is the first time some of these crew chiefs have ever shot out of the back of an aircraft,” said Capt. Wyatt Borsheim, a logistics officer with VMM-163 and a Wheaton, Minn., native.
As a pilot, Borsheim helps crew chiefs by giving them crucial information, so they are ready to fire the weapon.
“Using an inner communication system or ICS we talk to each other,” said Borsheim. “When I see the target, I’ll call out the target. I say which side of the aircraft the target is on, give an azimuth or clock position and range of the target.”
This training is extremely important for crew chiefs, because they learn the basics of how to use the weapon, how communication flows and how the crew works together.
“It is the crawl stage and focuses on the basics, but it is a building block to more live-fire training,” said Borsheim.
With this training, instructors need to be on the flight at all times for crew chiefs to complete qualification, explained Staff Sgt. Paul Herrera, a weapons and tactics instructor and crew chief with VMM-163 and an El Paso, Texas, native.
“This training is the initial training and readiness requirements for all crew chiefs to move on to more complicated live-firing training,” said Herrera.
Marines with VMM-163 must train and know the fundamentals of this weapon, just as they would with their M-16A4 rifle in recruit training.
“Every Marine is a rifleman and the only difference is that their weapon is mounted to the aircraft,” said Herrera. “It’s how we defend ourselves in country, and they need to be able to use it efficiently.”
With this training completed, the crew chiefs will continue moving forward with their training and begin training with infantry and ground Marines.