UKIN PICTURES: Firepower from the skies over Helmand

Lance Cor­po­ral ‘Gaz’ Lovett, an avi­a­tion crew­man on a new Lynx Mark 9A heli­copter, tells of his expe­ri­ences as he pro­vides fire­pow­er from the skies in Afghanistan to sup­port troops on the ground.

in control of a .50 calibre heavy machine gun as a 'door gunner' in a Lynx Mark 9A helicopter
Lance Cor­po­ral Gary Lovett is in con­trol of a .50 cal­i­bre heavy machine gun as a ‘door gun­ner’ in a Lynx Mark 9A heli­copter
Source: Cor­po­ral Bar­ry Lloyd, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

LCpl Lovett, aged 23, has always want­ed to be a door gun­ner. On join­ing the Army Air Corps he became an Air Troop­er and gained his class one pro­fi­cien­cy qual­i­fi­ca­tion. After com­plet­ing the 20-week avi­a­tion crew­man course he took up his cur­rent post.

He is cur­rent­ly serv­ing with 672 Squadron, Joint Heli­copter Force (Afghanistan), sup­port­ing troops on the ground, or pro­vid­ing escort to oth­er air­craft. He said:

“A typ­i­cal day in Afghanistan: we all come down to the flight line, rig the cab up with the weapons sys­tem, make sure every­thing is okay on the air­craft, that every­thing is ser­vice­able and good to go.

“We’ll have a brief of what every­one is doing for the day, what air­craft is doing what. Come down as a crew, get sort­ed out, and get the kit on the air­craft and go fly­ing.”

With increased fire­pow­er, more pow­er­ful engines and the abil­i­ty to oper­ate in hot­ter tem­per­a­tures, the new Lynx Mk 9A has increased the options avail­able to com­man­ders in Afghanistan since its arrival in May 2010.

It is fit­ted with a more advanced com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem, improved sur­veil­lance equip­ment and the M3M Machine Gun — a .50 cal­i­bre weapon, capa­ble of fir­ing over 850 rounds a minute. See Relat­ed News to read more.

672 Squadron in Afghanistan
Lance Cor­po­ral Gary Lovett, Army Air Corps, is cur­rent­ly serv­ing with 672 Squadron in Afghanistan
Source: Cor­po­ral Bar­ry Lloyd, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

LCpl Lovett, who hails from Birm­ing­ham, said:

“When we’re in the air, my respon­si­bil­i­ty is to look out for any oth­er air­craft that could cause a dan­ger to our air­craft. I’m also look­ing for insur­gent activ­i­ty in rela­tion to oth­er air­craft going in and out of the PBs [patrol bases].”

To ensure fir­ing is accu­rate when engag­ing poten­tial threats, LCpl Lovett reg­u­lar­ly prac­tis­es fir­ing from the heli­copter on the ranges near Camp Bas­tion. He said:

“We get a lot chances to use the ranges out here… It’s a full 360 degree range, which gives you more time on tar­get and more time to fire the weapon sys­tem.

“A long day out here can be very demand­ing with all your kit on, but it’s noth­ing com­pared to what the guys on the ground have got. And it gives you an awe­some sense of achieve­ment pick­ing them up out of the PBs and bring­ing them back.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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