DVIDS – News – 128th Aviation Brigade: Providing Continuing Aviation Training


JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, VA – The U.S. Army’s 128th Aviation Brigade, located at Fort Eustis, Va., provides U.S. Army soldiers with the training and education needed to repair and maintain some of the helicopters most effective combat weapons in use today.

The education that takes place in its classrooms and simulators provides a starting point for ongoing training to keep helicopters combat-ready and achieve strategic success.

Students spend 24 weeks in initial training, learning the basics of being a 15Y MOS, the military occupational specialty responsible for the armament, electrical, avionics systems and repairs of the Boeing attack helicopter AH-64 Apache (AH-64). The academic structure begins with an in-depth classroom curriculum, which students will later apply during hands-on training with simulators in the hangar.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jared Blacketer is assigned to the 128th Aviation Brigade as a 15Y-10 Level Instructor and provides new soldiers with their first steps towards mastering Apache-class helicopters.

“If they didn’t get that practicality, they would be so behind when they reported back to their units that they couldn’t put anything into practice,” says Blacketer. “So we need to use both classroom theory and trainers to get that hands-on experience and prepare them for their first duty station.”

These future maintainers will be responsible for identifying repairs and fixing problems with the AH-64. This includes preventive maintenance, ensuring that weapon systems and other electronic devices are working properly, and keeping timely records of repairs and safety checks.

“We are the next to operate these helicopters, and we absolutely need to know everything we can about them before we go on the field,” Pfc said. Brady Peckinpaugh, a student assigned to the unit. “That way we can go all out once we get to our duty stations and be able to speed up many of the processes we’re learning here.”

Instructors understand that through learning plans, students will also need to gain more than knowledge and experience.

“My confidence is going up a lot and I’m working with one of the coolest helicopters we have to offer,” Peckinpaugh said. “There’s not much better than working on this type of aircraft, so it’s definitely increased a lot.”

Technology in modern warfare continues to evolve and develop, which in turn requires more training and education for these soldiers to ensure mission success.

“As an aircraft maintainer, no matter the airframe, you are always learning and the training is [as] ongoing due to constant software updates or new equipment installations; there’s always a chance to find out more,” says Blacketer. “I’ve been doing this for 12 years and I’m constantly learning even after getting my initial training here. I wasn’t an expert on this right away, but I left here motivated to learn more with these basics to make sure I was going to be successful.

Some course lessons challenge students with factors other than textbooks and materials. In some cases, they will be confronted with time and their local environment.

“We don’t facilitate everything for students, like the weapon system, the gun turret system, and the ammunition handling system, which can take several hours,” Blacketer said. “They’re starting to see some of the challenges 15Y maintainers face when they’re in the heat to get the job done.”

The US military has over 1,200 Apache helicopters in its inventory. With a top speed of 227 miles per hour and a weight of over 11,000 pounds, it offers soldiers something unique.

“I found training here more fun than just a standard job, so I don’t really find it to be too stressful,” Packinpaugh said. “Our sergeants and civilians here are very informative and have taught me a lot, so I’m grateful for the instructors we have. They teach subjects in a variety of ways to help me learn and see different ways of doing things without us having to invent our own ways.

For Blacketer, this introduction to military aviation is more than just training.

“When these soldiers leave here, I hope they have the tenacity to learn more and really care about their job,” Blacketer said. “I want them to have a passion to become better maintainers, to learn other systems and to be better experts on the aircraft as a whole with the motivation to learn new systems or upgrades as they are introduced to the field.”

Date taken: 28.07.2022
Date posted: 29.07.2022 13:32
Story ID: 426113

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