Marines refresh, test skills during aerial gunnery training
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, Okinawa, Japan -- Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 engaged in an aerial gunnery training exercise March 27 at range W-176, about 25 miles off the coast of Okinawa.
The training allowed the Marines to test their skills by firing 2,400 7.62 mm rounds from M240D medium machine guns off the loading ramp of MV-22B Ospreys at targets.
“Our goal here today was to refresh our aerial gunnery skills,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jaymz L. Bott, a crew chief with VMM-265, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “We did this by conducting classes, briefs and hands-on training.”
To prepare for the training, Marines spent several hours discussing and refreshing their knowledge of the fundamentals of aerial gunnery in a classroom setting, according to Staff Sgt. Jared S. Watson, an MV-22B Osprey crew chief with the squadron. The fundamentals included safety, weapons functions and malfunctions and the standard operating procedures for target engagement.
“The classroom (session) was very informative and a good refresher,” said Cpl. Zachary G. Lyon, a crew chief with the unit. “When it came time to fire the weapon, I knew exactly what to do.”
Following the classroom instruction, the crews and pilots began the hands-on portion of the training exercise, which consisted of two Ospreys flying in different patterns while engaging the same target, allowing Marines to fire at the targets from multiple angles and become familiar with firing from the ramp of the aircraft, according to Watson.
Firing from the Osprey requires the gunner’s careful concentration.
“One of the main techniques we used to maintain a stable line of fire was to pull back on the weapon and tuck our elbows in tight,” said Watson.
Throughout the training, Marines were forced to practice the fundamentals they learned in the classroom, ultimately putting their skills to the test during a simulated combat scenario.
“Today we flew at the target using many different (flight) profiles,” said Watson. “This forced the Marines firing to be aware of their surroundings, as they were not the only crew in the air.”
Not only did the training have a positive impact on the Marines, it also gave them experience and knowledge that will be useful in the future.
“The kind of training we did today benefits the Marines tremendously,” said Bott. “If the Marines are not getting the opportunity to practice these skills, they will be forgotten.
“This training has huge long and short-term benefits for the Marines, ultimately enhancing our mission readiness,” added Bott.