Some stunning photographs show U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venoms engaging targets at “Yodaville” during an urban close air support exercise.
The shots in this post were taken on Sept. 30, 2016, during an Urban Close Air Support exercise held during the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 1-7 hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1).
The WTI is a seven-week course was held at “Yodaville” near Yuma, Arizona, within the Urban Target Complex or R-2013-West, a “fake” town surrounded by terrain similar to that you can find in the Middle East or Asia that provides the most realistic target environment for pilot and ground controllers to improve their skills in CAS conducted in urban area.
As the images show, the layout of Yodaville was designed in such a way it appears to be similar to villages in Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan.
Urban CAS (UCAS) is a specific kind of mission flown by fixed- and rotary-wing assets with the aim to assist friendly ground forces in contested urban areas. UCAS sorties are also launched as part of MOOTW (Military Operations Other Than War) to assist civilians during NEOs (Non-combatant Evacuation Operations), as happened in the past, in Saigon or Tirana.
Training like WTI prepares aircrews to operate at low altitude in a small, possibly highly lethal airspace while cooperating with JTACs (Joint Tactical Air Controllers) that provide guidance to the helicopters so that these can properly engage the enemies, preventing blue-on-blue incidents.
Those in the photographs are UH-1Y Venom choppers, a rebuilt and highly modified version of the famous UH-1 Huey. The UH-1Y, or “Yankee”, carries 12.7-mm or 7.62-mm machine guns, or 7.62-mm Gatling guns installed in the open doors on either side of the fuselage; it can also carry Hydra 70r rockets pods or APKWS laser guided anti-armor missiles, used for self-defense to soften-up enemy defenses before landing.
Image credit: U.S. Marine Corps