To equip the Army of 2030 and provide Soldiers with the very best capabilities for Combat Aviation Brigades, Army Aviation is executing a once in a generation modernization strategy. Investments span from targeted modernization of the enduring fleet to designing new Future Vertical Lift (FVL) aircraft.

These changes require improvements to Electrical Power Systems (EPS) of the Army’s aircraft. The Aviation Turbine Engines (ATE) Project Office oversees power systems for the Army’s enduring and future fleet of aircraft. ATE is responsible for EPS modernization initiatives to ensure both enduring and future platforms are postured for supporting Multi-Domain Operations. The Project Office also manages the T700, T55 and the T901 Improved Turbine Engine programs.

The enduring fleet of aircraft continues in the field today to rely on 1970s and 1980s technology for EPS. These platforms are challenged with an ever increasing power gap as new technologies and capabilities are added to the aircraft. Electrical power loads and demands will continue to grow with the future integration of additional mission systems, customer equipment, advanced aircraft survivability equipment suites, and upgraded avionics and instrumentation packages in the coming years.

The Army’s EPS Initiative

A “key enabler” supporting Tier 1 Major Platform Programs, the FVL Cross Functional Team has designated the EPS initiative a Tier 2 Army Aviation modernization priority. Future EPS will use a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) for the design, development, and qualification of a common EPS solution for use on the Army’s enduring and future fleets. The EPS team is addressing the capability gap that exists between the supply and demand of aircraft power loads, recognizing the need for extra power for overall aircraft operation, a margin for reserve, and the ability to continue to grow and expand in the future. These efforts address current capability gaps in the enduring fleet and enable future systems and technology insertions for increased aircraft lethality and survivability. Using MOSA to design a common electrical systems architecture will result in a smarter, more capable power system which will address current electrical power gaps and meet future power requirements at reduced costs.

Supports Operational Energy

The EPS team recently competed and received Operational Energy (OE) funding for FY24-28 from the Office of the Secretary Defense (OSD) Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) to support foundational electrical system and power management modernization. This additive funding will advance the Army’s smart power management, thermal management, reliability and maintainability, and safety of Army rotary wing aircraft.

This OE funding covers two major modernization efforts, the engineering and architecture modeling required to develop a common EPS technical data package and the design and development of a power management solution. The EPS team is working with platform original equipment manufacturers to define a modern electrical architecture for each platform as part of the engineering and architecture modeling effort. This effort includes both determining how the new technologies and components will interact with the existing systems, and defining a common architecture that will enable reuse of components between the platforms.

Power management systems modernization includes adding components such as electronic circuit breakers and a management controller that allows for automatic control of electrical loads during emergencies reducing crew workload and improving survivability. PM ATE working alongside the Army Contracting Command, Redstone recently awarded funding to develop the hardware for electronic circuit breakers. PM ATE will use this hardware prototype jointly created by DEVCOM C5ISR Center, DEVCOM Aviation and Missile Center (AvMC), and ATE to demonstrate future EPS capability and MOSA conformance. These improvements will reduce pilot burden, increase safety, and allow for more efficient aircraft operation.

The EPS team is using the enduring platforms as technology incubators to inform FVL requirements, thereby reducing future risk and streamlining technology insertion of common systems for FVL and enduring fleets. This system of continual learning and improvements has helped inform the development of aircraft power systems and create commonality, improve capability, and increase sustainability across the fleets.

The ATE Project Office is one of nine Program Executive Office, Aviation project offices. Located at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., the ATE PO is responsible for centrally managing the Army’s rotary wing turbine engine and electrical power capability for U.S. Army Aviation and coalition partners. Cindy Mitchell is an Avion Solutions employee supporting the Aviation Turbine Engines Project Office for strategic communications.

Looking Back, September 2023
By Mark Albertson

80th Anniversary of World War II
Army Aviation: Italian Campaign


September 3, 1943, the main weight of the British Eighth Army on Sicily crossed the Straits of Messina to establish a toehold on the Italian mainland. On September 9, elements of Eighth Army and 1st Airborne Division landed at the port of Taranto. That same day, General Mark Clark’s Fifth Army landed up the coast at Salerno.

Opening phases of the Italian campaign, featuring the invasion routes by Anglo-American forces.

“Fifth Army air artillery officer, Major John T. Walker, organized the Fifth Army Air Observation Post Section into two subsections: one dealing with operations, initially under Captain Gillespie [Eugene p.], and second with maintenance and supply, under Lieutenant Strok.”[1] The latter choice brings to mind the supply problems which existed during the North African campaign, with spare parts at a premium and a supply situation being less than desirable since it was the Army’s first major campaign of the war. Michael J. Strok, who for want of a better description can be viewed as a “scrounge,” organized Fifth Army’s Artillery Air Depot (Provisional). Strok’s efforts at “Keepin’ ‘em Flyin’” made up for the lack of support from the Army Air Forces, which was playing catch up as well. Strok not only organized maintenance schedules, but provided such services as safety bulletins and registering aircraft losses. Strok was able to acquire a few L-5s—in direct contravention to the Army Air Forces’ restriction limiting the Air OP to the L-4 Cub.

The work horse for the Air Observation Post, the ubiquitous L-4 Cub.

Paul De Witt observed that the primary task of the Air OPs at Salerno was to provide artillery fire direction. He also noted that early on in the operation, field commanders determined their front lines by using Cub pilots for reconnaissance. Five L-4s were sent aloft daily, at first light, to reconnoiter assigned sectors.

Later when crossing the Volturno River, Air OPs were employed to pinpoint German forward elements, which were then mapped for later pounding by the Field Artillery. Tank destroyer units and reconnaissance battalions would borrow Cubs from their division’s artillery and use them for recon purposes. The importance of Army aviation to combat operations was becoming readily apparent.[2]

On January 22, 1944, Operation: SHINGLE, an Anglo-American force stormed the beaches at Anzio in an effort to flank General Albert Kesselring’s defense line. The Germans held the high ground, an advantage countered by the Air OPs flying reconnaissance for the assault units.[3]

Regardless, the slugfest on the hotly contested beachheads caused heavy casualties among the assault forces. Blood was desperately needed for the wounded. Cub pilots, Lieutenants Paynee O. Lysne and Richard W. Blake, flew in 50 pints of blood to the Anzio beachhead. “In less than 24 hours after the plea had been sent, life-giving blood was being administered.[4]

As Allied troops fought hard to expand their beachhead and move inland, Army aviators helped to fend off German counterattacks. Captain Willian H. McKay, of Fifth Army, spotted a German force moving towards the beaches. Some 2,400 troops, backed by tanks, were suddenly bludgeoned by a 5,000 round downpour of American ordnance. A German officer, later captured, offered that casualties were upwards of fifty percent as a result of the lethal cooperation between McKay and the Field Artillery.[5]

Lieutenant Frank A. Perkins and his observer flew artillery missions at Anzio. The observer directed coordinated gunfire for American and British artillery and warships lying offshore. Two Italian towns, Littoria and Adria were reduced to rubble. These efforts extended to the nocturnal adjustment of artillery fire, from Anzio up to Cassino. At Anzio, Captain John W. Oswalt, 1st Armored Division Air Officer, focused 370 guns on a single target. Included here was naval gunfire from several cruisers, USS Brooklyn, HMS Dido and HMS Orion.[6]

Moonlight sometimes brought Cubs out like vampires. Distinct features betrayed themselves to the aviators, such as towns, rivers, coasts and road bends, which enabled the Air OPs to sharpen nocturnal bombardments. Returning Cubs were directed earthward by those on the ground armed with flashlights, who illuminated otherwise invisible strips.

A customer of the Air OPs, a 155 mm Long Tom in action, Nettuno area, February 1944.

German ground forces urged the Luftwaffe to hurry the eradication of the troublesome Cubs. The dilemma proved problematic. From the time a Cub had already completed its mission and had returned to base, or was on its way to another sector, it had already vacated the area in which it had been operating in. However because of the low operational altitude of the Cubs and the attendant anti-aircraft protection, enemy fighters had to be piloted by airmen of skill and daring so as to be able to down the elusive Cubs. The Luftwaffe even resorted to bogus messages of fighter direction to prompt Cub pilots to vacate patrol areas.

Air OPs pushed the envelope by flying deep into enemy territory. This drew fire from anti-aircraft batteries and even ground troops. To avoid damage aviators would push over to the deck and hedgehop their way to safety; or, simply zigzag out of harm’s way.[7]

Another German countermeasure was to locate the lairs of the pint-sized pests and bomb them; or, if possible, shell them. Like ground troops, Air OP personnel had to make sure that slit trenches and fox holes were dug. Planes were dispersed and camouflaged. And, if need be, contour flying on and off strips to prevent their location by the Germans.

A perspective on German efforts to counter the Cubs is offered by Howard Rudd, a veteran news correspondent and former Air OP aviator, reflecting on German fighter tactics. “German fighters in daytime were not a serious problem after North Africa, where the Luftwaffe lost air superiority forever. Some German fighter units did develop tactics to cope with L-4s: Two fighters attacked straight on, two from above and two from below. This usually brought down the L-4, but there were never enough German fighters available on the Western Front to make the technique widespread. The fact that it was used at all, tying up six scarce and valuable fighters against feeble, eight hundred dollar L-4s, is an indication of how the L-4s hurt the Germans.[8]

The Luftwaffe apparently concurred, showing how the cost outweighed the benefits. Fifteen Bf-109s were lost, resulting in seven pilots killed in exchange for eight Air OPs downed, not a very good swap.[9]

* * * * *

June 4, 1944, General Mark Clark made his triumphal entry into Rome. However, two days later, the spotlight focused on France with the Normandy invasion. This did nothing, though, to alleviate the fact that the Italian campaign was still a slugging match. Yet Anglo-American forces battling on the Boot were consuming German divisions that would have been employed elsewhere, such as in France or the Eastern Front.

The mountainous terrain made Close Air Support a problem, to the extent of producing friendly fire incidents. 1st Armored Division commander, Major General Ernest N. Harmon, threatened to shoot down Army Air Forces aircraft. However a solution presented itself.

An enterprising Captain John Oswalt, managed to acquire several L-5s. AAF pilots flew these aircraft which were equipped with VHF radios. Colored wing tops, Red, Yellow, Blue, etc., distinguished the liaison planes. The idea was to employ the Stinsons to direct fighter-bombers onto targets stalling the ground advance. Known as the Horsefly, “Flying Jeeps,” would perform the same function as the “Rover Joe” system of ground-based observers, mobile teams of radio-equipped Jeeps providing direction for fighter-bombers onto targets of opportunity. The ground-based observers were fighter-bomber pilots.

The Stinson L-5, the plane the Army Air Forces did not want the Air OPs to have.  Yet despite advantages of range, altitude, power and speed, the L-4 Cub proved the heart and soul of Ground Forces’ organic aviation; and, set the stage for the Army Aviation branch to come.

In the mountainous Italian terrain, the slow-flying liaison aircraft provided an advantage. Besides directing fighter-bombers onto ground targets, Horsefly assets determined friendly from enemy units for both air and ground forces. Continuous Horsefly patrols provided daily updates on targets of opportunity; kept advancing units apprised of natural obstacles and impediments affecting the line of march; much like the Air OPs, Horsefly missions were also found to deter German artillery fire for fear of revealing positions to American counterbattery fire.

Drawbacks included a vulnerability to enemy flak and fighters, so air superiority was a prerequisite. And repeated use of Horsefly provided that indication of impediments to fighter-bomber activity.[10]

Of greater significance, here, was the prospect of L-5s operating under the control of Army aviators. Beginning in North Africa, with light aircraft beginning to show real promise in Ground Forces operations, requests began to filter in for the L-5s, since the more powerful engine enabled the Stinson to operate in higher climes than the L-4, which in comparison was underpowered. Both the War Department and the Army Air Forces conspired to prevent the Air OPs from attaining an aircraft of higher performance.

Fort Sill was training Air OP pilots with the L-4. And since this was so, it was considered expedient to deploy aviators in the same aircraft under combat conditions. There were also production concerns, since the Army Air Forces needed the Stinsons to equip their liaison squadrons. And lastly, the War Department frowned on the Ground Forces’ upgrade since the L-5 needed more runway for landings and takeoffs; and, was less adept at avoiding enemy fighters as opposed to the Cub.

Another issue affecting the Ground Forces was that of photo reconnaissance. Ground Forces units resorted to L-4s for terrain photography; since the Army Air Forces efforts with this tactical chore had fallen short. 1st Infantry Division urged that photographic equipment be made available to the Air OP. The Field Artillery Board tested photographic equipment aboard

Cub aircraft and solicited the War Department to attach photographic capabilities to the Field Artillery Headquarters and batteries. The Army Air Forces disagreed.

Photoreconnaissance was among the duties within the tactical responsibilities of the Army Air Forces. The War Department turned down the Ground Forces’ request. The Air OP’s raison d’etre was the direction of artillery fire; while snapping pictures and seeking aircraft of greater sophistication and performance was moving beyond the original intent of Ground Forces aviation.

The status of the Italian campaign, September 1944.

* * * * *

Sky-Jumping Cubs

By December 1944, Fifth Army was north of the Arno River, occupying mountains south of the Po Valley. The mountainous terrain presented difficulties for Fifth Army commander, General Lucian Truscott,[11] and so persuaded him to address the issue. Truscott ordered Captain Jack Marinelli, air officer of the Fifth Army, to build a strip close to the CP. The ground settled on provides an intriguing piece of engineering.

The strip was laid out on a mountainside, with a downhill slope for takeoffs and an uphill run for landings. The runway stretched 735 feet by 30 feet; and, was 97 feet higher on the upside than on the cliff side, which featured a ski jump, the lip of which overlooked a valley some 2,000 feet below.

“The interesting feature,” according to Colonel Marinelli, “was that we had to use full throttle to taxi to the top of the strip and landing. But you could also take off down the strip without power.”[12]

* * * * *


[1] See page 166, Chapter 5, “Initial Deployment and Combat in the North African and Mediterranean Theaters,” Eyes of Artillery: The Origins of Modern U.S. Army Aviation in World War II, by Edgar F. Raines, Jr.

[2] See pages 38 and 39, “The Air OP of the Armored Artillery,” Military Review, Vol. XXIV, No. 6, September 1944, by 1st Lieutenant Paul DeWitt, instructor in Department of Air Training, Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

[3] See page 48, Chapter 4, “Air Observation Posts,” A History of Innovation: U.S. Army Adaptation in War and Peace, U.S. Army Center of Military History, by Jon T. Hoffman, General Editor.

[4] See page 43, “The Army Aviation Story,” Part VI, The War Years: North Africa, Sicily, Italy, U.S. Army Aviation Digest, 1962, by Richard K. Tierney.

[5] See page 106, “The Most Lethal Plane in the World,” Mr. Piper and His Cubs, by Devon Francis.

[6] See page 84, Richard K. Tierney.

[7] See page 276, “Air OPs . . . ,” The Field Artillery Journal, Vol. 34, No. 5, May 1944, by Major Edward A. Raymond, FA.

[8] See page 4, “When I Landed the War Was Over,” American Heritage, Vol. 32, Issue 6, October/November 1981, by Hughes Rudd.

[9] See page 271, “Air OP Causes Trouble: Extract From the History of the German Fighter Force in Italy,” The Field Artillery Journal, Vol. 36, No. 5, 5 May 1946.

[10] See pages 14-17, Part Two, “Horsefly Control of Fighter-Bombers,” Liaison Aircraft With Ground Forces Units, United States Forces, European Theater, Study N. 20, 1945, U.S. Army Center of Military History, August 4, 1998.

[11] On November 25, 1944, General Mark Clark was ordered to relinquish command of Fifth Army and take over 15 th Army Group; which meant command of Allied armies in Italy. General Lucian Truscott assumed command of Fifth Army. See page 170, Chapter Nine, “Starving Time: The Failed Advance and the Second Winter,” Flawed, but Essential: Mark W. Clark and the Italian Campaign in World War II, by Jon Mikolashek.

[12] See page 138, “The War Years: North Africa, Sicily and Italy,” The Army Aviation Story, by Richard K. Tierney with Fred Montgomery.

* * * * *


“Air AP Causes Trouble,” The Field Artillery Journal, Vol. 36, No. 5, U.S. Field Artillery Association, Washington, D.C., May 1946.

DeWitt, Lieutenant Paul A., “The Air OP of the Armored Artillery,” Military Review, Vol. XXIV, No. 6, Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, September 1944.

Francis, Devon, Mr. Piper And His Cubs, The Iowa State University Press, Ames, Iowa, 1973.

Greenfield, Colonel Kent-Roberts, Inf. Res., Chapter VII, “Practical Steps Toward Air-Ground Cooperation,” Army Ground Forces and the Air-Ground Battle Team, Including Organic Light Aviation, Study No. 35, Historical Section, Army Ground Forces, Department of the Army, Fort Monroe, Virginia, 1948.

Headquarters, 34 th Infantry Division, APO 34, U.S. Army, Italy, “Lessons Learned in Combat, November 7-8, 1942 to September 1944—Algiers, Fondouk, Cassino, Anzio, Rome, Hill 609, Benevento, Civitavecchia, Volturno River, Cecina, Rosignano, Mt. Pantano, Livorno,” September 1944. Source: Charles L. Bolte papers, Box 6, U.S. Army Military History Institute Library, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

Raines, Edgar F., Jr., Eyes of Artillery: The Origins of Modern U.S. Army Aviation in World War II, Army Historical Series, Center of Military History, United States Army, Washington, D.C., 2000.

Raymond, Major Edward A., FA, “Air OPs . . . “ The Field Artillery Journal, Vol. 34, No. 5, U.S. Field Artillery Association, Washington, D.C., May 1944.

Rudd, Hughes, “When I Landed The War was Over,” American Heritage, Vol. 32, Issue 6, October/November, 1981,

Tierney, Richard, with Montgomery, Fred, The Army Aviation Story, Colonial Press, Northport, Alabama, 1963. Introduction by, General Mark W. Clark.

Tierney, Richard K., 20 th Anniversary of Army Aviation: Part VI, “The Army Aviation Story,” U.S. Army Aviation Digest, Fort Rucker, Alabama, November 1962.

Vance, William E., “History of Army Aviation,” U.S. Army Aviation Digest, Vol. 3, No. 6, U.S. Army Aviation School, Fort Rucker, Alabama, June 1957.

UH-60 Black Hawks and crews with the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment participate in an airshow dress rehearsal event July 27, 2023, at Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport at Fort McCoy, Wis.

Multiple units with Wisconsin’s Army National Guard and Air National Guard combined July 27 to hold a practice session of their airshow event at the airport at Fort McCoy.

The event, which was a practice for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh, Wis., included Soldiers and Airmen and included field artillery, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, an F-35A Lightning II, and a KC-135R Stratotanker.

Fort McCoy was established in 1909 and its motto is to be the “Total Force Training Center.” Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.

The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services nearly every year since 1984.

Learn more about Fort McCoy online at, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”

Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app to your smartphone and set “Fort McCoy” or another installation as your preferred base.

U.S. Army AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Attack Battalion), 12th Combat Aviation Brigade fired 15 Air-to-Ground Missile (AGM) 114R Hellfire II’s at Karavia Range Complex, Greece, May 12, 2023. Five AH-64D and AH-64A Apache helicopters from the Hellenic Armed Forces participated in the live fire exercise, demonstrating the ability to mass precision fires as part of a multinational team. The live fire exercise was an opportunity to enhance readiness across the force and further build interoperability with host nation partners. 12 CAB is among other units assigned to V Corps, America’s Forward Deployed Corps in Europe. They work alongside NATO Allies and regional security partners to provide combat-ready forces, execute joint and multinational training exercises, and retain command and control for all rotational and assigned units in the European Theater.

DEFENDER 23 is a U.S. Army Europe and Africa led exercise focused on the strategic deployment of continental United States-based forces, employment of Army Prepositioned Stocks, and interoperability with Allies and partners. Taking place from 22 April to 23 June, DEFENDER 23 demonstrates USAREUR-AF’s ability to aggregate U.S.-based combat power quickly in Eastern Europe, increase lethality of the NATO Alliance through long-distance fires, build unit readiness in a complex joint, multi-national environment, and leverage host nation capabilities to increase USAREUR-AF’s operational reach. DEFENDER 23 includes more than 7,000 U.S. and 17,000 multi-national service members from more than 20 nations who will participate including, but not limited to: Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Gabrielle Hildebrand)

In my first ‘official’ duty as your President, what a privilege and honor to represent our Association by attending the recent Army Special Operations Aviation Command change of command at Fort Liberty and inducting BG Phil Ryan into the Gold Honorable Order of Saint Michael (OSM) as part of his pre-change of command awards ceremony. The Gold OSM is the pinnacle of the AAAA recognition pillar, and BG Ryan’s incredible service and contributions to the Army and Army Aviation exemplify the spirit of this significant AAAA program.

That being said, what a productive few days the National Executive Group (NEG) had in Connecticut a few weeks ago in mid-June. Your AAAA team of MG (Ret.) Wally Golden, Senior Vice President; BG (Ret.) Tim Edens, Treasurer; MG (Ret.) Todd Royar, Secretary (thank you MG (Ret.) Jeff Schloesser and nominating committee for identifying and recruiting him to join the NEG!), and I… along with Bill Harris, Janis Arena, and Laura Arena enabling and facilitating the engagement… reviewed our strategic planning for the next 3-5 years for our current and future AAAA administrations.

Together with our Vice President for Membership, CW4 (Ret.) Becki Chambers; and Vice President for Chapters, LTC Jan (Ret.) Drabczuk, and our Chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee, COL (Ret.) Shelley Yarborough, we all worked through various issues ranging from the implications of the recently adopted AAAA By Laws revision, to the appointments of new AAAA National Members at Large and committee chairs. I could not be more pleased with the teamwork, initiatives, and innovations expressed by all. We are working hard to make sure that you, our members, have a professionally rewarding, relevant, and fun next few years.

We identified some specific areas that will need refinement in terms of written policies and procedures that will help our chapters maximize your membership benefits and your experience through Networking, Recognition, Voice, and Support. Those four pillars form the foundation of the AAAA mission statement to “Support the U.S. Army Aviation Soldier and Family.” Your NEG and AAAA executive support staff are 100% locked on that mission; we take it very seriously and want you to know every decision we make is using that statement as our standard. We are all motivated and look forward to providing the very best support to our members that we can.

The NEG will be working on developing and initiating a few new programs over the coming months, as well as identifying and announcing our AAAA National Members at Large appointments and AAAA committee chair positions. Please, when you get messages from us through email, see our social media posts, or read something in the magazine that you have questions about or even disagree with, let us know. Your AAAA National Executive Board, and especially those of us in your National Executive Group leadership, are here to serve you. We depend on all of you for feedback.

We hope to see many of you at the upcoming ASE Symposium at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, AL September 11-12. And we are hard at work preparing for the Cribbins Readiness Conference, November 13-15, also in Huntsville; the Luther Jones Depot Forum in Corpus Christi, TX, December 5-6; and next year’s annual Summit in Denver, CO, April 24-26, 2024. Go to the AAAA website at for more information.

Again, I’m honored to have my turn as your AAAA President, and I truly look forward to working with you our members – Active, National Guard, Reserve, DAC, Industry, Veterans and Retired – to maximize the AAAA experience, and have a great time doing it!

MG Walt Davis, U.S. Army Retired
36th President, AAAA

Soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division participated in the Can-Am Festival on July 15 in Sackets Harbor, New York. The Can-Am Festival, which started in 1971, celebrates the national friendship between Canada and the United States.

The festival, which is celebrating its 51st anniversary, features music, a farmers’ market, children’s activities and more.

The 10th Mountain Division Marching Band marched in the parade in Sackets Harbor, performing for the crowd of attendees. In addition, Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade and the 10th Mountain Division Combat Aviation Brigade provided static displays for the festival and interacted with members of the community.

U.S. Army Capt. Michael Kirch, one of the Soldiers who worked the static displays for the Can-Am Festival, spoke about the importance of the division’s presence at this event.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t really understand what we do for military training,” Kirch said. “We’re here to support the community and help them understand the military a little bit more.”

“The Can-Am Festival is a great cross-border relationship for visitors from both sides,” said Connie Barone.

Barone is the site manager for the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, and a resident of the village since the 1950s. She expressed her appreciation for the military members of Fort Drum.

“Today, we have so many Fort Drum military individuals, plus the support, the families, and everyone it takes to run Fort Drum,” Barone said.

“They come to Sackets, they live in Sackets, and so this town has this really long history with the military and in particular, the Army.”

Another member of the community, Donald Matthews, a U.S. Army veteran and member of the Sackets Harbor Chamber of Commerce explained how important the festival is for the community and Fort Drum.

“Our military is nested right here in the North Country,” Matthews said. “With all these communities, it’s good to bring them together.”

Matthews also emphasized his gratitude and appreciation for the military involvement in the festival.

“I’m really happy that the military came out and Fort Drum had that outreach,” he said. “I think the local community appreciates seeing the men and women that serve our country, and having the chance to meet them and see what they do on a daily basis.”

Soldiers assigned to the United States Army Air Ambulance Detachment- Yakima (USAAAD), 2-158th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade performed an aeromedical evacuation of a civilian in Klickitat County, Wash. on Jul. 19, 2023.

The mission started when a paraglider was injured and sent a distress message to the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office. After determining that ground rescue would not be possible over the terrain the patient was located at, federal support was requested through the Washington State Emergency Operations Center for a high-powered helicopter with hoist capability to recover the injured civilian.

At 4:40 p.m., a USAAAD UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter departed Yakima Training Center for the Columbia Hills, a cliff formation on the Washington side of the Columbia River across from Rufus, Ore. The aircrew arrived at the location of the injured paraglider at 5:12 p.m.

“The patient was at about 1,400 feet inside of a draw, but the visibility was excellent, and the wind was calm,” said Maj. Alec DeGroat, USAAAD commander and pilot in command of the mission. “When we arrived at the patient’s reported location, we saw she was on a 30-degree slope, so we deployed our flight medic by hoisting him approximately 60 feet down from the hovering helicopter.”

The aircrew landed on a flat piece of terrain downslope from the patient’s location while the flight medic on the ground assessed the patient and prepared her for transport.

“The patient was conscious but had injuries to the head, ribs, and leg that were bad enough to make ground evacuation extraordinarily difficult,” Staff Sgt. Brendan Silkey, the critical care flight paramedic on the mission, said. “Once I was able to get to her it was a straightforward evacuation. I was able to assess her condition and prepare her for transport; we were able to hoist her out expeditiously. I was on the ridge for about 45 minutes.”

After the patient and medic were extracted via hoist, the aircraft transported the patient to MultiCare Memorial Hospital in Yakima and then returned to Yakima Training Center.

“Successful missions like this are a testament to our air ambulance crews and flight operations personnel that regularly train to maintain the necessary flight, medical, and operational skills for these kinds of missions,” DeGroat said. “From the time we departed for the mission, to the time we returned to Yakima Training Center was the span of less than two and a half hours. These Soldiers deserve every accolade they’ve received; I couldn’t be prouder to lead this organization.”

The unit is based out of Yakima Training Center in central Washington. USAAAD operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide aeromedical evacuation support for thousands of service members training at Yakima Training Center each year.

Additionally, the detachment works with the Washington State Emergency Operations Center, local sheriff departments, and civilian volunteers to provide rescue coverage in central Washington’s remote wilderness areas.

The life-saving aeromedical evacuation is a collaborative effort. As a detachment with 33 personnel and four UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters, every member of the team is vital to USAAAD.

The 16th Combat Aviation Brigade operates two aeromedical evacuation units that provide defense support to civil authorities: Yakima Dustoff in central Washington and Arctic Dustoff in central Alaska.

Looking Back, August 2023
By Mark Albertson

Army Aviation:
Some Gems from Art and Dottie, 1959
“The Coop That Flew”

Development of a new highly mobile, air transportable communications center, designed to direct fast moving U.S. Army forces was announced recently by the Department of the Army. The system, which has an extremely high degree of mobility, can be set down almost anywhere by helicopters, and be flown out immediately for relocation elsewhere. It can also be moved rapidly from place to place on conventional Army trucks.

Developed by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, it provides the vital nucleus for a communications network of radio, telephone, telegraph and teletypewriter combat links.

The system can be carried by helicopters to a remote destination in hours rather than days, or can be set up on otherwise inaccessible mountain tops. With its communications tentacles spread over hundreds of miles, the new system can get an urgent message through to a distant outpost even with direct lines broken or destroyed.

Speed and flexibility in communications would be vital on a battlefield where troops would have to be continuously on the move and widely dispersed to avoid annihilation by a nuclear warhead.

For prompt transportation and added versatility, the center is made up of separate aluminum houses or “shelters,” each fully equipped and independent. These can be hooked up quickly to fit any battle situation. Small centers for the front lines would have two or three shelters; larger headquarters would have as many as 24.

Each shelter carries its own independent supply of electricity, but can also plug into a central power source.

High priority combat messages flowing into the center from combat groups and other sources would be immediately available to the Army field commander. And the same network of communications lines carries his message with reflex speed to higher headquarters or to hard-hitting Army combat elements.

The new system, the first fully air transportable message center of its kind, is the result of 12 years of design and research.

Source: Page 8, Army Aviation, Vol. 7, No. 1, Army Aviation Publications, Westport, Ct., January 24, 1959.

* * * * *

A look at how unmanned aerial vehicles used to be with, “Snooper.”

A small turbojet and pilotless aircraft that can swoop over the battlefield to gather military information is one of the newest surveillance drones under Army development.

The drone—called SWALLOW and designated SD-4 by the Army—will use a variety of advanced techniques for military surveillance purposes, including radar, infra-red and photography.

The SWALLOW is being developed and produced by Republic Aviation Corporation’s Guided Missile Division for the Army Signal Corps under a $25,000,000 contract. The contract calls for detail design and production of both the new drone and ground control units.

Source: Page 14, Army Aviation, Vol. 7, No. 1, Army Aviation Publications, Westport, Ct., January 24, 1959.

* * * * *

“Ingenious Is The Word For It!”
By Lieutenant John A. Means

Can you tell when your leg is being pulled? Sometimes it is quite difficult to do so, especially in those instances when the raconteur backs up his “tale” with documentary evidence.

The envelope bore airmail postage and an official address. Here are the contents:
“The aviation platoon of Headquarters Troop, 16th Sky Cav, 2nd USAMC (M), now stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, is a unit that believes in developing new techniques to meet new problems.

Requirement Dictated Findings

In recent weeks the aviation platoon has had great need of a method of transporting several personnel over long distances to inaccessible areas.

The H-13 Sioux having certain range limitations and the larger helicopters and fixed wing aircraft being utilized in LARGE scale troop hauls precluding their use in smaller operations, the unit sought a vehicle that could deliver TWO troops to a confined area some 150 miles away and return. As always, the study called for low maintenance requirements and a low initial price.

Findings: the BIRD DOG!

Quick to adapt the equipment to the mission, fertile minds in the aviation platoon devised the ingenious piece of equipment as shown in the accompanying photo. An analysis of the possible missions for this hybrid revealed the following:
a) Delivery of replacements to squad-sized units.
b) Delivery of veterinarians to front-line war dog platoons.
c) Delivery of a chaplain (and assistant) with suitable card-punching equipment.
d) Delivery of COs to their units in those instances where map-reading deficiencies are expected.

Additional Uses

Additional uses for this equipment are expected to come to light with the passage of time. Equipping the two “wingman” with weapons could provide fairly accurate suppressive fire. Paymasters and couriers could be speeded to their objectives, the airfield to headquarters runs being obviated.

We offer this development to “Bird Dog” users throughout the world. We feel certain that they will see the simplicity involved in this development.[1]

Source: Page 123, Army Aviation, Vol. 7, No. 3, Army Aviation Publications, Westport, Ct., March 18, 1959.

[1] The use of two passengers or “wingmen” brings to mind an observation offered by the remarkably astute Benjamin Franklin, after he had observed the Montgolfier Brothers balloon floating across Paris, November 21, 1783.

“It appears, as you observe, to be a discovery of great importance, and what may possibly give a new turn to human affairs. Convincing sovereigns of the folly of wars may perhaps be one effect of it, since it will be impracticable for the most potent of them to guard his dominions. Five thousand balloons, capable of raising two men each, could not cost more than five ships of line; and where is the prince who can cover his country with troops for its defense as that ten thousand men descending from the clouds might not in many places do an infinite deal of mischief before a force could be brought together to repel them?” See page 598, “On War From the Air,” Vol. 2, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiographical Writings, Viking Press, New York, 1945, by Carl Van Doren.

* * * * *

“Collins Develops Radical Aircraft”

Developed jointly by the U.S. Army Transportation Corps and the Office of Naval Research, the first full scale model of the “Aerodyne,” a radical wingless VTOL aerial vehicle is shown with its designer, Dr. Alexander Lippisch, during a roll-out at Collins Research Laboratories, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Incorporating a new philosophy in aircraft design, the “Aerodyne” achieves vertical take-off and landing capabilities, and transition to and from forward flight, by channeling the airflow (thrust) from its two-contra-rotating propellers internally through the craft’s fuselage, and deflecting downward and out through controllable vents in its belly. The need for wings is eliminated by this propulsion method.

Directional control of the Army-Navy developed “Aerodyne” is governed by a conventional rudder and elevator. The cockpit (not shown) will be located aft under a canopy in the vertical stabilizer.

The experimental aircraft is scheduled for early shipment to Ames Laboratory at Moffett Field, California, where it will undergo full scale wind tunnel testing. Credited with the world’s first rocket-powered fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 163, Dr. Lippisch led the Collins research team responsible for the “Aerodyne’s” design and construction.

Source: Page 130, Army Aviation, Vol. 7, No. 4, Army Aviation Publications, Westport, Ct., April 20, 1959.

After more than 54 years of combined federal service, Rodney L. “Sande” Sangsland made his final landing in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at Fort Novosel’s Lowe Army Heliport June 20, 2023.

He previously retired from active duty as a chief warrant officer five after more than 33 years of service, and then served as a Department of the Army civilian helicopter flight instructor at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence for more than 20 years. He has spent the past 11 years training rated aviators to transition to the M model UH-60 Black Hawk.

In Army Aviation, he did more than set a standard, he wrote the book on it: in his final active duty assignment as utility branch chief at the Directorate of Evaluation and Standardization, he provided the basic training requirements for what would become the Flight School XXI program, and then became the standardization officer at the 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment implementing the program. His work continues to impact undergraduate and graduate level UH-60A/L/M aviators who train at Lowe.

“Mr. Sangsland’s dedication and professionalism are unmatched by the instructors around him and serves as a standard to emulate at all levels of flight training. Sande is a foundational asset to the members of Foxtrot Company, 1-212th Aviation Regiment, 110th Aviation Brigade, the Aviation Center of Excellence, and the federal service,” said Capt. Jesslyn F. Clark, commander of Company F, 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment.

Sanglsand was a product of the Greatest Generation. His parents were born in the early 1900s and belonged to an era renowned for its patriotism, self-discipline, dedication and strong character — a generation that endured the Great Depression and viewed military service as one’s patriotic duty.

In a large family of 13 siblings, Sangsland had older brothers who served across multiple eras and conflicts including during World War II and Korea.

“Parents of World War II soldiers were giving people, but they were hardened. They stood steady,” he said. “The mentality now is more (focused on self) instead of giving to the nation. What you give is such a small part when you look at the whole. (Military service) really gives you a love for your country.”

In the late 1960s, Sangsland was at a point he felt his life wasn’t going anywhere. “I was going to college but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. They were having sit-in’s and love-in’s and all the protesting, and I didn’t want any part of that.”

He decided: “I’ll go do something for my country.”

In those days military service was what people did, he said.

“Everybody went into the military. It made boys grow up. Now we have kids at 25 (years old) still living at home. At (that age) I was training Greek military personnel in Greece in the Greek language,” he said.

He initially enlisted in the Army in 1969 as an infantryman and became a light and heavy weapons specialist. He served with the 10th Special Forces Group, with Greece as his area of interest. He became SCUBA and HALO qualified, and was the distinguished graduate of the NCO Academy and Ranger Course, earning the Merrill’s Marauders award. He went to several language schools learning Greek, Thai, and Spanish with ease. Sangsland also trained students for the School of the Americas as a Spanish Airborne instructor.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said, noting the camaraderie and the travel.

He planned to serve for only a few years, but the Army turned out to be more than he expected. Sangsland’s experience at his first unit is what made him decide to stay in the Army.

“I skied Mount Olympus in Greece, all the way up to 12,000 feet. That’s where Zeus lives — I didn’t find him when I was up there,” he said with a smile. “I reenlisted after that trip.”

He served with Special Forces for eight years, including in Panama and in Central and South America.

In the late 1970s, he served with the U.S. Army Parachute Team known as the Golden Knights, and enjoyed not just the precision jumping, but also the professionalism.

“Here’s another wonderful job, probably the best job an enlisted person can have,” he said. “The team was extremely professional, you had to have a spotless record — you represented the Army, and had to be cordial. It was all manners, always clean cut,” he said. “It was a mission I was very proud to do.”

In 1979, Sangsland’s military journey brought him to Fort Novosel (then-Fort Rucker), where he became a warrant officer aviator flying the UH-1 Huey. He soon became qualified in the Black Hawk helicopter. He deployed in support of Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, where he earned an Air Medal with Valor.

In the mid-1980s, he served as a Spanish speaking UH-1 instructor pilot for the U.S. Special Operations Command El Salvadoran Co-pilot course (Huey helicopters) at Fort Novosel. His focus then returned to the Black Hawk, completing the instructor pilot course and eventually becoming a standardization pilot. He served as a method of instruction platoon leader. He developed and taught the first Spanish UH-60 aircraft qualification and IP courses for the Army. He also served in support of “Plan Colombia,” which aimed to combat drug cartels and insurgent groups.

He supported Operation Just Cause in Panama, which sought to restore a democratically elected government and remove a dictator who was wanted for drug trafficking charges. Sangsland was responsible for the standardization of multiple aircraft operations within USARSO. He developed and implemented the Command Rotary Wing Environmental Training Program for the UH-60 including mountain flying, dunker, deck operations and high-altitude flying operations (flying with oxygen up to 18,000 feet).

In the early 1990s, Sangsland returned to Fort Novosel as a Directorate of Evaluation and Standardization subject matter expert for the UH-60.

He served in Heidelberg, Germany with 207th Command Aviation Company supporting the U.S. Army Europe commander. He planned and executed the helicopter deployment to Bosnia-Herzegovina for commander stabilization force support (NATO operation), establishing operations in Sarajevo, and maintained a split-based standardization program between the Central Region and Sarajevo during Operation Joint Endeavor.

In the late 1990s he returned to DES at Fort Novosel to become the utility branch chief. He represented the Center for Army Lessons learned in Albania and Kosovo, and also developed training requirements and provided oversight for the UH-60 AQC for the Colombian military.

After retiring from active duty, he worked as an Army civilian at 1-212th in various roles including as deputy standardization officer, instructor pilot, instrument examiner, and standardization pilot for the implementation of Flight School XXI.

During his time in federal service, Sangsland amassed more than 10,000 hours of flight time in the aircraft and simulator devices.

Sangsland said he was fortunate to have the support of his own loving family throughout his federal service, and to make career decisions together with them. His daughter Becky recently wrote in a social media post that she had always seen him as “just dad,” until other people explained what his career commitment to excellence really meant.

“You do realize that your dad is a Ranger too, right? And that he was the top graduate, Merrill’s Marauders? … Friends who were going through Flight School XXI would be studying their Blackhawk manuals and say, ‘You do realize your dad wrote this manual, right?’ Or when Perry and I first started dating and his pilot friends would say, ‘Sande? You mean the godfather of army aviation?’”

She wrote that Sangsland has lived “a life dedicated to something bigger than himself, bigger than all of us. A life dedicated to excellence in everything, whether big or mundane. A life of sacrifice, born of love for this country and what she stands for, what she can be. A life of service, faith, learning, and leading.”

Looking back on his career, Sangsland said the Army opened new opportunities, gave him a different palate including an affinity for exotic foods, and it also taught him tolerance.

“I’m much more accepting of people that look different than me,” he said. “You have to look at the character.”

The Army also gave him something that he believes young people need.

“What do the youth look forward to? They need a mission in life. Whatever that is, if it’s raising a family correctly, that’s a mission. Whatever you’re doing — if you can contribute and make it better and people are learning, it keeps you healthy,” he said.

In the Army, “you can have such a feeling of accomplishment. You don’t get it any place else,” he said.

When asked if there are any “takeaways” that he might leave on the dry-erase board for future generations of students when they cycle through the same classrooms and aircraft where he has instructed, his first thought was attributes of character and good judgment.

“The prevailing thing is truth,” he said. “Don’t lie. Don’t even shade the truth. No matter what the consequences are. Always, always be truthful — with your wife, in everything. Truth is paramount.”

He emphasized Army Values of loyalty, integrity and personal courage.

“Have the courage to speak the truth without being judgmental. It can be done in the smallest ways,” he said.

Those values show up even in even routine tasks and decision making.

“Yes, we need to fill out the book. The job’s not done until it’s done,” he said.

“And very small things, like a hard landing — if there’s a doubt, shut the aircraft down. So you find out there’s nothing wrong with the aircraft. That’s good,” he said.

Or, maybe a situation arises midair: “You have a bird strike. You saw something go streak across the windshield but you don’t know where it is. You think it’s gone. Did it go into the engine? You don’t know. Don’t continue flying. Land the aircraft,” he said.

He also emphasized thoroughness after the mission.

“Look the aircraft over. Someone else is going to be flying it next. Don’t just put your stuff on and leave. Check everything,” he said.

He also emphasized consistency and tenacity.

“Be tenacious to do what is right and to seek out what is right. You’ll recognize right when you see it. Uphold it. Live by it,” he said.

“Not every student can you teach all of that to. They come from so many backgrounds. But even in a small way if you just teach a part of it, they begin to understand it,” he said.

One nonnegotiable for Sangsland is a mandatory reading of Army Regulation 95-1 in its entirety.

“Regulations and procedures — when you know them you have freedom and confidence,” he said. “You read the books to know what the right and left limits are. This will guide your life as an aviator. You can have all kinds of freedom inside that. When you don’t know them, you’re always wondering ‘what am I doing? You’re always guessing.’”

And finally, be teachable.

“There have been people that have touched my life — they’ve said something that just made so much sense to me when I was doing something wrong,” he said. “When you realize that, make it right. Maybe you’re doing something wrong and it just hasn’t caught up with you yet, you know? When you know, start doing it right and pass it on.”

The U.S. Army’s AH-64 Apache helicopter is and will remain the Army’s Attack helicopter for the foreseeable future.

The Apache Project Office (Apache PO) has steadily upgraded the Apache since it was first fielded in the 1980’s. The upgrades have produced the world’s premier attack helicopter which is used by the U.S. Army and more than 16 allies around the globe.

The AH-64E Version 6.5 (V6.5), is the next version of the Apache Helicopter. It will include an upgraded software program to increase its survivability on the modern battlefield.

Aligning with the Program Executive Office, Aviation common configuration strategy, V6.5 establishes a common Operational Flight Program software baseline across the Apache E model fleet.

“We’re very excited about the ongoing development of the V6.5 software as it paves the way for Apache modernization including the integration of the ITEP engine,” Col. Jay Maher, Apache project manager, said. “V6.5 aligns the entire E model fleet under the same software, streamlining training and maintenance while providing a pathway for sensor/capability parity.”

Other V6.5 technology enhancements and insertions include upgrades in lethality, survivability, situational awareness, navigation, and communication. It also introduces an Open Systems Interface (OSI). OSI is an initial step towards a more open systems architecture, which will ultimately allow rapid insertion of new technologies and enhanced capability in future updates. The Apache PO developed the V6.5 upgrades to address DOD security mandates, Army Aviation and Army Capabilities Manager (ACM) Attack/Recon priorities, and the 2019 Version 6 Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation findings.

Although software heavy, V6.5 includes several hardware insertions, requiring a modification work order that will support the retrofit of all V4 series and V6 series Apache E-model aircraft to V6.5. To date, V6.5 has successfully completed its Systems Readiness Review, and the Preliminary Design Review. The next program major milestone, the first flight, is scheduled for fall of 2023. The V6.5 development program is slated to conclude in 2025 and version 6.5 fielding via aircraft retrofit is currently targeted to start in FY26.

In FY25, the Apache will receive additional software and hardware updates as it integrates the Improved Turbine Engine (ITE) for Developmental Testing (DT). Upon completion of the DT, the Apache will support the Advanced Turbine Engine (ATE) office in the Operational Test & Evaluation for the ITE program.

“We look forward to integrating this more capable engine onto the AH-64E and performing the necessary testing so one day we can get this into the hands of our warfighters,” Katie White, ITE Integration assistant product manager, said. “The Apache ITE Integration team has done a tremendous job collaborating with the V6.5 team, Aviation Turbine Engines Project Office, Boeing, General Electric, and other stakeholders to enable successful integration and qualification activities.”

The V6.5 is on schedule for the First Flight in the fall of 2023. The program is slated to conclude in 2025 and fielding via retrofit is currently targeted to start in FY26.