New bird takes flight: CAB flies UH-60Ms for first time in Iraq

Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division
Story by Spc. Roland Hale

Date: 03.30.2010
Posted: 04.09.2010 09:58
News ID: 47894
New bird takes flight

BAGHDAD — Something new is buzzing the skies of Iraq. <br /> <br /> As Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, replaces 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, they bring with them a battalion with one of the Army's newest helicopters, the UH-60M Black Hawk. The CAB is the second active duty unit to receive the UH-60M and the first to use it in Iraq.<br /> <br /> This new model of Black Hawk was first used by 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101 Airborne Division. Receiving the aircraft Nov. 7, 2009, the unit used the aircraft during a deployment to Afghanistan. <br /> <br /> The CAB became second to receive a shipment of the aircraft April 21, 2009. On March 30, two crews from the CAB's 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, made the M-model's pioneer flight into Iraq, with the rest of the battalion's fleet close behind.<br /> <br /> "There are a lot of first times for a lot of things in this war. It's really cool to be a part of one of those times," said Spc. Corey Corr, a crew chief from 3-1 AHB who was aboard one of the two first UH-60Ms to cross into Iraq. <br /> <br /> "It was a pretty smooth flight," he said. "As we started getting close the berm crossing into Iraq, the aircraft pulled up side-by-side so that one wasn't going in before the other."<br /> <br /> Like Corr, many crew chiefs are enthusiastic about the aircrafts' new features. One of the biggest changes impacting the crew chiefs is the moveable crew seats.<br /> <br /> "It's changed a lot," said Corr. "I can now move my seat three different ways. On the L-model, it was a fixed-position seat. [This one] provides us the ability to scan and do our job a lot better." <br /> <br /> The most notable improvements introduced to the UH-60M are not the crew seats, however. <br /> <br /> The new "glass cockpit" features four multi-functional displays, an autopilot system, two electronic flight management systems, dual navigation systems, a digital moving map and an integrated vehicle health management system. Mechanically, the M-model's new blades offer 500 pounds more lift than previous models, and it has a strengthened fuselage and infrared suppression. The UH-60M is what many 3-1 pilots call the Cadillac of the sky.<br /> <br /> "The M-model made it a smooth flight in [Iraq]," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Randy Hendrix, a pilot with 3-1. "The moving map display is a huge plus for us. We didn't have to fumble with a paper map up in the cockpit. It really increases situational awareness; right there on the screen you look down and see where you're at as well as other aircraft and units."<br /> <br /> The pilots of 3-1 are among the first Army pilots to work with these systems. <br /> <br /> Operating them throughout the CAB's year-long deployment, they will pave the way for future pilots of the UH-60M. A tour in Iraq will bring the challenges of extremely hot and sandy conditions, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jesse Lee, who also flew one of the first aircraft into Iraq. Communicating with their peers who used the M-model in Afghanistan, CAB pilots will continue to break new ground as they fly the aircraft in an inclement environment. <br /> <br /> While CAB pilots can refer to lessons learned by the pilots of 159th CAB, operations in Iraq pose major differences than operations in Afghanistan, such as terrain, heat and elevation. <br /> <br /> "It gets hot in Afghanistan, but not quite like this. We'll really be the ones to see how the M-models hold up in this environment," said Lee.<br /> <br /> Despite the addition of this new aircraft, 3-1's mission will remain unchanged. <br /> <br /> Along with the CAB's four other battalions, each with its own diverse mission, the battalion's UH-60Ms will conduct full spectrum aviation operations from the skies of Iraq in support of U.S. and Iraqi ground forces.