Scarface Provides Aerial Coverage for Infantry Marines

This slide shows underscores the key role rotorcraft as well as other airborne assets are playing the current Afghan operation.

The first two photos show an AH-1W “Super Cobra” helicopter with Marine Light Attack Squadron 367, Marine Aircraft Group 40, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan, lifting off shortly after sunrise, Feb. 13, to support combat operations in Marjah. The squadron escorted aircraft dropping off Marines from Regimental Combat Team 7, MEB-Afghanistan, into Marjah in support of Operation Moshtarak, then provided close air support for the Marines on the ground.

When the Marines of RCT-7 were inserted into Marjah, Feb. 13, via CH-53E “Super Stallion” helicopters from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466 and CH-53D “Sea Stallions” from HMH-463, both air and ground crews were protected overhead by the AH-1W “Super Cobras” and UH-1Y “Yankees” of HMLA-367.

The Super Cobra is specifically designed to escort and provide close air support to troops on the ground, carrying a multitude of sensors and munitions to locate and destroy enemy positions. Flying in tandem was the new Yankee helicopter carrying a heavier payload of weaponry than the UH-1N “Huey” it replaced. In addition to close air support and aerial escort, the Yankee can deliver light cargo externally, perform as a command and control platform and provide surveillance to commanders on the ground.

Since the initial insert for Operation Moshtarak, the Marines on the ground have received constant overwatch and reliable close air support when needed from the squadron known as Scarface.

Even with the enhanced capabilities of Scarface’s aircraft, additional units were tasked with assisting the entire brigade during this operation. Squadrons such as Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3 and Marine Attack Squadron 231 provided reliable information-gathering systems that allowed fellow squadrons, like Scarface, to gain positive identification of a target.

“It’s gone well so far, we have provided reconnaissance, overwatch, caught IED placers and we’ve helped locate and identify the enemy,” said Capt. Keith Bucklew, a Harrier pilot with VMA-231. “We provide all aspects of close air support.”

Once the heavy-lift helicopters finished dropping off the infantry Marines and returned to base, Scarface instantly assumed an overwatch role by providing reconnaissance and close air support to the Marines below.

After the first 24 hours of the operation, HMLA-367 had flown more than 70 missions and totaled nearly 90 hours of flight time. With the initial insert complete, the mission of HMLA-367 continued both around Marjah and across southern Afghanistan.

In photo three,  as the sun rose over the flight line here, the air crew of this UH-1Y “Yankee” helicopter from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, Marine Aircraft Group 40, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan, had completed more than five hours of work by providing escorts for aircraft inserting Marines into Marjah, Feb. 13, during the beginning of Operation Moshtarak

In photo four, two UH-1Y “Yankee” helicopters from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, Marine Aircraft Group 40, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan, are preparing to lift off in support of Operation Moshtarak, Feb. 13. This utility aircraft platform can provide close air support for troops on the ground, as well as additional roles based on mission requirements.

In photo five, two AH-1W “Super Cobra” helicopters from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, Marine Aircraft Group 40, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan, are preparing to embark on another mission to provide support to Marines on the ground during combat operations in the city of Marjah, Feb. 13.

In the final photo, during the early morning hour of Feb. 13, Marines from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, Marine Aircraft Group 40, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan, used aircraft like the AH-1W “Super Cobra” pictured to escort larger heavy-lift helicopters loaded with Marines from Regimental Combat Team 7, MEB-Afghanistan, who were inserting into Marjah for Operation Moshtarak.

Credit: Marine Aircraft Group 40

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***Posted March 15th, 2010

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