In this episode of The Spear, MWI’s John Amble is joined by Capt. Lindsay Heisler. She is an aviation officer—an Apache pilot—and on December 5, 2015 she was a platoon leader in 1st Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment and had been deployed in Afghanistan for several months. That night, her aircraft and another were given a mission that the pilots had done a number of times before—provide security for a ground force.
But that night would turn out to be unlike previous missions. When the ground force began taking enemy fire from all sides, the Apaches above had to act immediately. Listen as Capt. Heisler describes what happened that night and the actions she and her fellow aviators took—actions for which she received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
We recorded this episode while Capt. Heisler was at West Point to receive the 2019 Alexander Nininger Award for Valor at Arms. The award is given annually to a United States Military Academy graduate selected jointly by the academy and the West Point Association of Graduates. We want to sincerely thank the Association of Graduates for helping to arrange the recording of this episode.
You can listen to the full episode below, and don’t forget to subscribe to The Spear on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Image credit: Capt. Roxana Thompson (adapted by MWI)
If they don't get canceled and actually make it into service, I strongly believe that the FVL and FARA would obviously contribute to US Army Aviation if both airframes get built.
I have to wonder though, with Chinooks, UAVs, and Apaches, that separates the firepower from the surveillance and transport. Why doesn't the US Army buy and use more UH-60 Direct Action Penetrators for combination firepower and transport? Ostensibly, the UH-60s cannot carry as many soldiers as high, hot, or as far as the CH-47 Chinooks, but having Apaches hover about to provide CAS to ground force and Chinooks requires numbers and dedication.
Having the "Right tools for the right job" requires logistics, C4SIR, and coordination. Did the US Army have the proper tools in this battle? Apparently they did, but the Podcast just discloses TWO Apaches to protect the pinned Chinooks and ground force.
I wonder if the MD Helicopters MD 969 "Twin Attack" helicopter with combination firepower, transport, cabin miniguns, FLIR, and drone/ATGM launch tubes could have helped as well to deliver and retrieve soldiers AND also provide CAS within the same platform. These smaller helicopters could and would have provided a more nimble and agile transport and CAS support and act as QRF, even if their cabins were empty…they could have rescued and retrieved any causalities. The MD 969 helicopter pilot would have the envious skill of acting as flying transport AND providing CAS AND UAV pilot. No Chinook or Apache or UAV pilot can possess all three skills within one airframe.