By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Jan. 14, 2008) -- The Army's vice chief of staff said the Army's aviation safety record in 2 million flight hours supporting the war on terror over the last six years can be attributed to good training.
During the closing address at the Association of the U.S. Army's aviation symposium Jan. 11, Gen. Richard A. Cody said, "When I count the number of maintenance-related accidents we've had in Iraq and Afghanistan -- only two that have caused class A mishaps -- I think of the training we have down at Fort Eustis, the training we have down at Fort Rucker and the investment we have made in the NCOs of aviation. It tells me we have got great people watching over our young mechanics who work 24 hours a day sometimes, to keep this type of operations tempo up."
The general also credited quality training for the Army aviation community's ability to sustain its operations tempo in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"You can't just rotate formations in and out of combat every 12 months -- 10 active-duty brigades rotating in and out of combat every year, some on 15-month tours -- unless you have great training," he said.
Cody also told attendees of the symposium, civilians and military members alike, that he wants to ensure the Army's latest aviation programs -- the UH-60M Black Hawk and the CH-47F Chinook upgrades -- are in the hands of Soldiers soon for use in combat.
Features of the UH-60M Black Hawk upgrade include a new digital avionics suite, compatibility with the Army's Future Combat System and improved lift capability. The CH-47F Chinook upgrades bring greater speed, a digital cockpit, and modifications to the airframe to reduce vibrations.
"Our challenge is we have to keep moving. We have to keep the (Chinook F Model) program on course, we have to keep the (Black Hawk M Model) program on course," he said. "We want to get both of those aircraft into combat here with the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade replacing the 101st CAB."
The general also said he wants to get the ARH-70 program moving so the Army can begin retiring the aging OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, though he did say the upgrades to the OH-58D would continue to keep the aircraft safe until the ARH-70 comes online.
The ARH-70A, in development now, includes a modern, common avionics architecture system, digital glass cockpit, full-color multifunction displays, night vision capability and plug-and-play capability for networks or systems of systems. The Army expects to procure more than 500 of the aircraft as a replacement for the Kiowa Warrior.