From Guide For Squad Leaders, Pam 350-12, May 1967
- Airmobile Operation. An operation in which combat forces and their employed equipment move about the battlefield in aircraft under the control of a ground force commander to engage in ground combat.
- Airmobile Force. A force composed of ground combat elements combined with Army aviation elements to conduct airmobile operations.
- LZ Preparation. Preparatory/suppressive fire placed on an LZ prior to and during conduct of an airmobile assault by an airmobile force.
- Chalk. A load to be carried by an aircraft which may be personnel, equipment or both.
- Load Planning Factors
Aircraft type No. combat troops Cargo (lbs) UH-1B 4 1,000 UH-1D 6 1,500 CH-34 6 1,500 CH-47 32 8,000
- Arrange loads in pick up area so that aircraft approach into the wind.
- One man in charge of loading area. He should be clearly identified by distinctive marking easily recognized by air crews and ground personnel.
- Loads will be positioned in accordance with published or announced load plan and spaced 40-60 meters apart, adjacent to, but not on, touchdown point.
- Chalk leaders only stand. Other chalk members lie down or crouch as aircraft approach. Chalk leader identifies his aircraft in formation, raises his rifle horizontally above his head and directs aircraft in.
- Personnel in following chalks assist in loading bulk (i.e., mortar ammunition) in lead chalks. Care must be taken not to damage aircraft when loading heavy equipment, particularly mortars.
- Cargo to be externally transported will be prepared for hookup
with experienced guide to direct aircraft. The following method is helpful
in delivering supplies and equipment, following initial assault, when
- Have loads identified by colored panel or smoke.
- Direct aircraft to load by color designation.
- Have aircraft deliver load to same color smoke on LZ.
- Safety Measures Emphasized
- Approach aircraft from front or directly from side; avoid tail rotor.
- Approach from downhill side if on a slope.
- Outside personnel, as a minimum, strap in.
- Cargo secured in aircraft by lashing/blocking.
- Loading Times with UH-ID Aircraft
- Troops only: 10 seconds.
- Troops and cargo: 60 seconds.
- Personnel follow orders of aircraft commander.
- Aircraft commander follows prescribed flight route and altitude. Notifies flight leader/ground unit commander/artillery if he must deviate to an alternate flight route.
- The ground unit commander will normally make the decision to change to an alternate LZ and inform the airlift commander and fire support elements.
- Landing Zone
- LZ control/security party (on ground or in first lift) keep flight leader advised of enemy activity.
- Personnel unload rapidly after aircraft touches down and clear LZ.
- All available personnel assist in off-loading bulk cargo.
The airmobile assault begins with preparation of the landing zone by close air support and/or artillery fires. The armed helicopters arrive at the LZ just prior to termination of the preparation to assist the forward aid controller (FAC) in evaluating the results and to help in determining whether additional strikes are needed. The assaulting infantry are loaded at staging fields or picked up in the battle area from a pickup zone (PZ). The troop lift helicopters (slicks) are vectored to the LZ on command from the C&C aircraft or the armed helicopter leader. The armed helicopters coordinate strikes on the LZ with FAC prior to the slicks' reaching the LZ. After the slicks receive the command to proceed to the LZ, the armed ships relay the following information to them:
- Final approach heading.
- Touchdown point (may be marked with smoke).
- Heading and route for departure from the LZ.
- Brief summary of condition of LZ, including enemy and friendly troop situations.
- Where suppressive and supporting fires will be delivered.
- Direction of attack or movement from LZ.
- Direction of Attack
The direction of attack is monitored by crew chiefs in the slicks; they indicate the direction to the assault force by hand and arm signals just prior to touchdown.
As the lead elements of the airmobile force approach the LZ, armed helicopters provide suppressive fire while the slicks are landing, unloading and departing the LZ. Artillery fire and air strikes may also be made simultaneously and in close proximity to each other. Flak suppression strikes may be required during the landing. The desired timing includes simultaneous touchdown and takeoff of all slicks with less than 10 seconds on the LZ. As the first lift of helicopters departs from the LZ, armed helicopters, tactical air, or artillery can be used to support the ground force. The armed helicopters are also used for reconnaissance and surveillance.
At the termination of the mission, troop extraction is completed in the following sequence:
- Ground unit secures the area.
- Armed ships assume security of the LZ as the ground unit moves into pickup formation.
- Slicks deploy to pickup formation prior to reaching the LZ.
- Fire support for the extraction is furnished by tactical aircraft, artillery and armed helicopters.
Ambush of U.S. airmobile forces by the enemy is a constant threat. The enemy's capability to ambush possible LZs in force can be decreased by—
- Limiting and varying reconnaissance of LZs.
- Conducting tactical air strikes on the LZ followed by an artillery preparation.
- Utilizing alternate LZs.
- Deceiving the enemy as to the actual location of the LZ by establishing a decoy LZ.
- Avoiding the most likely LZ, or one which was used previously.
- Committing a maximum number of troops in the LZ at one time.
- Using random stretches of available roads as LZs.
- Points to Consider
In addition to the points mentioned, the following considerations may also influence the outcome of the operation:
- Airmobile operations in high canopy jungle are limited to troops trained in rappelling.
- "On ground" time for the helicopter can be appreciably reduced by removing the seats or strapping them up in the helicopter. This enables the troops to embark and debark quickly.
- Troop and cargo lift capability is determined
not only by type helicopter and the amount of fuel
on board, but also by meteorological conditions
and terrain. For example, in the high plateau
transport helicopters can carry about 60 percent of
the load possible in the lowlands.