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18 December 2013

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Great piece, as always.

The genius of the AH-1W, and now Z, is that was ready to pick up the scout mission as soon as it needed to do so. We were trained from the time we were young puppies to demand the grunts let us do "detached escort"....to roam the plains on our own without being tied to anyone or anything.

A nuance: when I (we) came into the Fleet, we were still flying the OV-10. The last Bronco pilot went through the RAG with me. They shared our hangars; HML/As and VMOs were in the same Marine Air Groups and even cross-qualified pilots. So when the plane went away, the rockets just migrated over to our side of the hangar, and we picked up that mission without missing a day.

The next nuance: despite its name, the AH-1 is a multimission aircraft by design. Superb optics, superb weapons delivery systems (to shoot similar to the "fiber-optic guided" weapons Sweetman discusses, of which I have neither heard nor seen), and two winged pilots running same.

Those pilots had to understand the sytems on the plane as well as the scheme of maneuver on the ground...designations for boot Cobra and Huey First Lieutenants included Tactical Air Controller (A), Forward Air Controller (A), and Supporting Arms Coordinator (A). Not uncommon for guy in back to basically hover the plane, or even land, for over an hour while the guy in front (who had superb front row-balcony seat) ran the battlefield.

Planes must be able to do more than one thing. And so must the pilots.

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  • James Hasik is a senior fellow at the Center for Government Contracting in the School of Business at George Mason University, and a senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center on Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. Since September 2001, he has been studying global security challenges and the economic enterprises that provide the tools to address them.

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