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CAB performs heavy lifting

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Units of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade came together to execute a sling load operation on an Mi-17 helicopter in the Kandahar province, Afghanistan, June 3.

Three battalions throughout the brigade all brought unique capabilities to the mission to ensure mission success for recovering of the damaged Mi-17 aircraft.

Task Force Hammerhead, 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th CAB, was asked to assist in the movement of the Mi-17 helicopter due to the lift capabilities of the CH-47F Chinook helicopter amongst its ranks.

“Due to the weight of the Mi-17 and the small area it was located in, there were only two aircraft that could get to and lift it. One was the Mi-26 with Russian air company ‘Vertical T’ and the other is the U.S. Army’s CH-47F Chinook,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Brian Clyde, material aviation officer for 3-25 AVN, 25th CAB, and a native of Hot Springs, Colo. “All parties involved did an outstanding job to complete this operation in a safe and timely manner."

For the mission, a Chinook helicopter from Company B, 3-25 AVN, was used to sling load the damaged helicopter and transport it back to Kandahar Airfield for repairs. Task Force Lightning Horse, 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, contributed during the hook up and transportation of the Mi-17 by providing OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters for security for the CH-47F crew.

Before the aircraft was hooked up and transported, it had to be prepped to standard ensuring the safety of everyone involved. This is where Task Force Lobos, 209th Aviation Support Battalion, 25th CAB stepped in.

“We had to prepare the aircraft to meet the proper guidelines for sling load such as weight restrictions, altitude to be flown at, temperature in order rig it properly to be lifted in a safely manner,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jorge Parra, the downed aircraft recovery team officer in charge for Company B, 209th ASB, 25th CAB. “Along with the aircraft able to sling load the Mi-17 helicopter, we possess the proper equipment and personnel trained to handle the operation.”

The day prior to transporting the Mi-17, a crew from B/209th ASB arrived on site to begin the necessary preparations for the aircraft. They removed the rotor blades, secured anything inside the helicopter that could cause damage while in flight, and made sure the levels of all liquids were at the prescribed amount for the safety of the air crews involved.

“I have performed four aircraft sling load missions in my years in the Army. Anytime when you fly another helicopter, the aero dynamics do not allow it to fly straight. We had to go slower than usual because it twists and turns,” Clyde said. “We sling load for aircraft recovery because it is the safest, most expeditious manner to recover an aircraft.”

To ensure the safe travel and completion of the operation, the CH-47F crew was comprised of the most senior members of B/3-25 AVN and ground rigging crew was overseen and hooked up by the most qualified personnel of B/209th ASB.

“We accomplished the mission in a timely manner with no injuries,” Parra said. “The soldiers did an outstanding job and displayed professionalism at all times while working hard.”

Mission success was the direct result of all three battalions working as a team to bring all aspects of the mission together from rigging to security to transportation.

Article by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade