A Royal Air Force Chinook from RAF Odiham has been conducting live firing training at a range in Lincolnshire.
During the exercise the Chinooks fired twin M134 Miniguns and single M60D General Purpose Machine guns at a mix of beached vessels and purpose-built targets. Firing from a moving object is particularly difficulty and the accuracy of the firing was assessed as part of the training.
The firing is done by the Weapons System Operators onboard, who are required to conduct this training regularly to ensure they maintain their skills. The training includes response to threats such as returning fire when the aircraft is taking-off and landing.
After completing the day firing, the aircraft landed at RAF Coningsby to refuel and replenish the ammunition. It then completed the same training at night using night vision goggles.
Firing at night is particularly difficult especially when there is no moon. Whilst operating over the sea on a dark night at 200 feet above the water, the crew can see very few references outside of the aircraft with which to gauge their height or attitude.
Precision air-to-ground firing requires exceptional teamwork, as the pilots must position the aircraft accurately and provide a stable platform from which to employ the guns. The red tracer rounds are used for the accuracy and are vivid at night as they leave long trails across the sky until they burn out.
The Chinooks are of a variety of tasks from carrying troops and equipment to operating as a flying hospital, transporting injured service personnel from the battlefield to hospitals.
The Chinooks have recently been deployed to Estonia as part of the bilateral agreement between the Defence Ministers of Estonia and the UK. Whilst in Estonia they have been supporting NATO’s enhanced forward presence in the region.