Soldiers assigned to 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment; and 1st Battalion of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), recently conducted a combined arms live-fire exercise of the AGM-114 Hellfire missile.
The AGM-114 Hellfire is an air-to-ground missile that serves as a precision drone strike used to destroy air defense vehicles and high-value targets. These missiles can be loaded onto and launched from the AH-64 Apache helicopter.
The Aug. 22 exercise marked the first time in 20 years this type of missile has been fired in the Fort Campbell training area.
“Live Hellfires are not normally shot in garrison,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Pierre Mitchell, who participated in the training. “Most Apache aviators do not shoot live Hellfire missiles until they are in a combat environment. This was a chance for a few aviators to conduct live missile training that would validate all the simulated hellfire training we have conducted so far. “
Colonel Travis Habhab, commander of 101st CAB, wanted to incorporate the Hellfire missile into regular training for the brigade to ensure helicopter pilots are trained and ready to win the future fight in any location, against any adversary.
“This combined arms live-fire exercise today was a huge step forward for the future of aviation training here on Fort Campbell and the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade,” Habhab said. “Having the opportunity to conduct a live-fire of Hellfire missiles for the first time in 20 years shows that we are continuing to train as members of the most lethal combined arms team.”
In addition to Mitchell, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot from Chicago, Illinois, three other pilots were selected to conduct the combined arms live fire exercise, 1st. Lt. Dominick Territo, from Davie, Florida, Chief Warrant Officer 2 London North, from Mesa, Arizona; and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Justin Michael Louge, from Fayetteville, North Carolina.
North was selected to take part in the training after coming out on top in a May “Top Gun” competition, where pilots competed in various events such as a live fire scenario, simulator testing and written evaluations.
Using a remote laser from a second aircraft, the air crew of Territo and North fired the first Hellfire missile into a stationary air defense tank, intended to simulate enemy air defense capability.
The air crew of Mitchell and Logue fired the second missile by inputting grid coordinates into the Hellfire’s warhead and allowing it to be guided autonomously by the Global Positioning System, or GPS. After destroying two enemy targets, the platoon continued to engage various targets with rockets and 30mm.
For all four pilots, this was their first time shooting AGM-114 Hellfire missiles in a garrison environment.
“Bottom line is that it’s a rare training opportunity that gave crew members the opportunity to fire a missile for the first time,” Teritto said. “It was an invaluable learning experience that those crew members can share with other junior crews so they may also learn. It’s also a great confidence booster for both the crew members in their own ability but confidence in their equipment.”