Mounted weapons provide added firepower to AAVs
CAMP SCHWAB, OKINAWA, Japan -- Assault amphibious vehicles rumble down the road through thick, sticky mud. Marines bellow out commands and prepare to fire on their target: a wooden structure in a man-made cave on a mountain. Flashes go off and bullets fill the air as the target is reduced to a pile of splinters.
Marines with Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, fired weapons mounted to AAVs June 25 at Camp Schwab to prepare for an upcoming live-fire exercise.
This was the first time Marines with 3rd Amphibian Assault Battalion fired weapons mounted to AAVs during their current deployment to Okinawa, according to Staff Sgt. Eric Boyd, an AAV crewman with 3rd AA Bn., currently assigned to CAB, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, under the unit deployment program.
The upcoming live-fire exercise will take place in the Republic of Korea in July, according to Gunnery Sgt. Shawn C. Souders, the operations chief with the battalion. The monthlong exercise is part of the Korean Marine Exchange Program, a joint training exercise that promotes interoperability and combat readiness between U.S. and South Korea forces.
The Marines fired different weapons mounted on six AAVs, according to Souders, a Chesterville, Pennsylvania, native. Two of the vehicles had M240B medium machine guns, two had M2 .50-caliber Browning machine guns, and the last two had MK19 40 mm automatic grenade launchers mounted on them.
During the training, Marines executed a number of different drills, according to Cpl. Christopher B. Williams, an AAV crewman with the battalion.
“I was given 200 rounds just to test-fire the two M240s,” said Williams, a Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, native. “I used 50 rounds on the first barrel, then switched barrels and fired 50 more rounds. Once I reached 100, I switched M240s and did the same thing.”
Marines change the barrels on the M240 because the weapon fires rounds so quickly that the barrel becomes extremely hot and can warp. Switching between barrels prevents this from happening, keeping the Marines in the fight.
Before executing live-fire training, the Marines were given refresher classes and practical application time, according to Boyd, a Pinetop, Arizona, native. Classes consisted of weapons drills, how to reload the weapons and warm and cold barrel procedures.
Few ranges in the Marine Corps allow service members to fire mounted weapons with such high caliber rounds, according to Boyd. With the limited opportunities Marines have to fire live rounds, the Marines take advantage of the time they are given.
“(The training) allows that crew chief, the vehicle commander, to shoot his new weapons,” said Boyd. “I think they did pretty well. Every weapon shot, so I’m happy about it.”