The Apaches move into Hawaii as hundreds of Stryker Brigade armored vehicles move out of the state. The choppers replace the Army's 30 older Kiowa helicopters.So the 25th ID is dropping Strykers, increasing Apaches and going Light. I was late to the party on this happening (thanks to a reader that schooled me) but now it has me wondering.
Get used to seeing them over Oahu and the Big Island. Maneuvers will include live-fire training at ranges on Schofield Barracks and the Pohakuloa Training Area.
"Landing and taking off anywhere on the island here as well as the Big Island that has the higher altitudes is really not an issue," Apache pilot Mark Lewis said.
About 500 soldiers will support the Apache squadron. The personnel gains arrive on the heels of Schofield's loss of 1,200 troops to Department of Defense downsizing.
The addition of Apaches to the state's military base dovetails with the U.S. focus on the Pacific region.
"We fly for the troops. We know that it's our job to support them," Benson said.
The Apache carries a 30mm chain gun and the capability to fire rockets and Hellfire missiles. Some refer to it as the Army's "flying tank."
"It's not the fastest helicopter maybe in the Department of Defense fleet, but I would say maybe it demands the most respect," Lewis said.
The helicopter seats two pilots. One one controls the weapons. The 25th Infantry Division has only eight Apache pilots. More are being trained.
"When you get out of flight school you basically know how to fly the aircraft. Once you get to the unit they teach you how to fight in it," pilot Mike Anderson said.
The Apaches will work in tandem with unmanned aircraft assets coming to the 25th Infantry Division. The Apache squadron will be fully operational by the summer of 2017.
Are we seeing a realignment in the Army?
Light Infantry practically disappeared with the introduction of the Stryker but now it seems to be coming back in a big way. I'll be watching to see what's happening with the 10th Mountain (if it isn't happening already). If they go light then we know that they're getting real serious about trying to be expeditionary in the way that Marines know it. Before the only real light infantry units in the Army (outside of Special Ops) resided in the Airborne Corps. If you see more Brigades go light...and they're Brigades outside of the 18th Corps then it will be telling.