Sport Why army helicopters take off from a naval ship

Why army helicopters take off from a naval ship


U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cody Rich

  • The USS sea base Puller acts as the basis for Army Apache attack helicopters.
  • The helicopters could use the ship as an outpost to counter swarms of Iranian boats.
  • The same concept was used in a little-known operation called Prime Chance in the 1980s.

    The U.S. Army and Navy are working together to send a not too subtle message to Iran. Army Apache Guardian helicopters practice flying in front of the USS Lewis Puller, an expedition landing base ship based in the Persian Gulf.

    The Lewis Puller can refuel and upgrade attack helicopters, setting up services for the same type of joint military operation that was last carried out under Operation Prime Chance in the mid-1980s. The Apaches, part of the Army’s Task Force Saber, spent the month of March operating from the unique warship.

    Flight operations

    The flight deck of the USS Puller can land four helicopters at the same time.

    U.S. Navy photo by William Buckner, Chief Aviation Ordnanceman

    The combination of the Apaches and Lewis Puller creates an improvised attack helicopter that can launch attacks against targets on land or at sea. The Lewis Puller based on the AlaskaClass double hull oil tankerwhich, in their unchanged configuration, have a capacity of 1.3 million barrels. The Expedition Ships of the Sea Base (ESB) Add A flight deck – the third largest after aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships – that can hold four helicopters at the same time.

    The ships are said to serve as lily pads and allow helicopters to take off from more distant, more expensive aircraft carriers and amphibious ships to reach their destination, with the ESB serving as a gas station. It also has an aircraft hangar, a weapon magazine, and can embark and launch small boats and unmanned underwater vehicles.


    An Apache Guardian of the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, armed with four Hellfire anti-tank missiles and a 19-round missile launcher capsule.

    CPT Brian Harris

    The AH-64E Apache Guardian is a special attack helicopter equipped with a 30mm chain gun M320 and up to 16 anti-tank missiles from Hellfire. Alternatively, the Apache can be loaded with a mixture of 8 hellfire missiles and two rocket cases with 19 each Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS) laser guided missiles. The Hellfire Missile can destroy tanks up to 4.3 miles away, while APKWS can damage or destroy easily armored targets up to 3.1 miles away.

    The Puller-Apache platform is capable of attacking small schools of boats, oil platforms, land-based anti-ship missiles and other threats. The ship is now on the way to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a paramilitary organization controlled by Tehran. The IRGC Navy operates and trains schools of armed speedboats, armed with machine guns, rocket launchers and shoulder-fired anti-ship missiles, to operate in groups of a hundred or more to “swarm” larger warships. The IRGC also operates anti-ship and short-range ballistic missiles based on the Iranian coast.


    The armed speedboats of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have hardly changed since 1987.

    AFPGetty Images

    If Iran wanted to block the Persian Gulf from commercial traffic, the U.S. military would likely reopen it and neutralize the threatening Iranian armed forces with a combination of air and sea strikes. If Iran or Iranian-backed militias strike again, as they did in January Ballistic missile attack on US forces at Ain Al-Asad Airbasethe Apaches could retaliate against the IRGC’s naval and coastal forces in the region.

    Latest military technology and equipment at the Special Operations Forces Industry conference

    A small bird helicopter loaded with troops during a demonstration exercise, Florida, 2018.

    Brian BlancoGetty Images

    Something like this has actually happened before. Between 1987 and 1989, the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, aka “The Night Stalkers”, flew Little Bird helicopter of barges and frigates of the Navy in the Persian Gulf. Operation Prime Chance combined the U.S. Army helicopters with Navy SEALs, Marines, and Special Boat Units in an undeclared war against units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that harassed civilian shipping. Six small birds, both MH-6 Utility and AH-6 attack versions, equipped with SEAL snipers, missiles and machine guns, flew patrols to a depth of ten meters.

    Captured Iranian ship and US landing craft

    Iran Ajr, captured by U.S. forces in 1987, with a Navy LCU landing craft next to it. Ajr was later sunk at sea.

    HistoricalGetty Images

    The Army and Navy team worked together to monitor Iranian Gulf forces, especially at night when the IRGC Navy forces were suspected of planting sea mines. On September 21, 1987, two AH-6 attack helicopters and an MH-6 Little Bird took off from the frigate USS Jarrett and grabbed the Iran Ajr, an Iranian ship after being observed laying mines. The little birds fired on the ship, which was later abandoned by its crew. A team from SEALs boarded the ship, secured the mines on board and proved that the ship had mined international waters.

    Now, more than 30 years later, there is a possibility that the Army / Navy helicopter / ship team will be reactivated and against the exact same enemy. But Prime Chance 2.0 would be even more one-sided. The Iranian armed forces have hardly changed. The Apache Guardian is much more advanced than its Little Bird predecessors – both in terms of firepower and the range of its sensors.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest news

NHL: place in phase 2

After giving details...

Sad news for the Magic System group: the inconsolable leader Asalfo

Asalfo @ FBThe famous musical group Magic System is in mourning. One of their first supporters from the...

First 48-inch Oled panels come out of LG Display’s first Chinese factory

After multiple postponements, production has finally started in LG Display's new Oled tile factory in Guangzhou, China, the first...

The State releases an additional 1.2 billion euros to support French Tech

French Tech and the government are on the teeth. The coronavirus crisis has further strengthened the cash flow of...

Must read

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you