Several members of the Aviation Program Executive Board were recognized at the Army Aviation Association of America Joseph P. Cribbins Symposium on November 16 at the Von Braun Center.
Apache New Equipment Training received the Army Aviation Materiel Readiness Award for an Industry Team Contribution, while Kevin Belden received the Award for an Individual Contribution.
The training arm within the Apache project office built and internally staffed the NET team to train Airmen and Maintainers during the commissioning of the AH-64E. Whether a new pilot or a seasoned pilot, operating the AH-64 V6 requires comprehensive mission equipment and flight training. To help operators fully prepare to use Apache V6, the team provided essential instructions to ensure operators can operate safely and take full advantage of the aircraft’s many enhancements.
The NET team, made up of Apache standardization instructor pilots, maintenance test pilot examiners, and senior non-commissioned officers, is the most experienced group of Apache instructors available to the military. The team trained 222 Army Airmen on the AH-64E and provided aircrew training program flight training support for four army units that were sorely lacking in instructor pilots. The team uses a combination of classroom training, Longbow crew training sessions and training flights to familiarize pilots with the upgraded version of the aircraft, transforming existing skilled pilots of the AH-64E version 4 or earlier as a fully qualified V6 pilot.
During the year, the team completed approximately 1,890 flight hours in direct support of AH-64E qualification training for the military. They also transported approximately 49 Apache helicopters from Mesa, Arizona, to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Fort Drum, New York and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and eight Apache helicopters for foreign military customers from Mesa to the Port of Houston. , Texas, for overseas shipment. Additionally, they helped deploy the AH-64E to three units during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This team represents the best of professionalism, innovation and the ability to constantly adapt to meet every mission, whatever the circumstances,” said Colonel Jay Maher, Apache project manager. “I am very proud of their accomplishments, especially given the challenges they faced over the past year during the ongoing COVID pandemic. “
Belden, DigiFlight task manager for the AH-64 Operator New Equipment Training Team, oversaw the qualification of 1,175 Army and Allied airmen aboard the AH-64E. From October 2020 to August 2021, at the height of the global COVID pandemic, he coordinated, orchestrated and managed the training of 202 airmen on the AH-64E in three separate combat aviation brigades. He managed the training of 198 Airmen in the AH-64E V4.1 software upgrade and 349 Airmen in the Kill Precision Advanced Weapons System, while most of the military was locked out due to the pandemic.
Belden wrote the first AH-64E -64D to -64E Operator and Maintenance Test Pilot Course Management and Instruction Program qualification program for the version 6 upgrade. prepared the training support plan for operators and maintenance test pilots for training on the new AH-64E version 6 equipment. He was the main coordinator of the supervision and development of the AH-64E version 6 training from the military and the UK, including academics, course questions, exams and what-ifs.