New birds in town: Marine unit adds three helicopters to its fleet

  • Published
  • By Angela Woolen
  • Robins Public Affairs
The number of helicopters flying in and out of Robins Air Force Base is increasing.

The Marine Aircraft Group at Robins will add three more to its fleet of UH-1Y Huey and AH-1W Super Cobras for a total of seven helicopters.

With the additional aircraft, the Marines will be able to perform more of the mandatory flight times for the active duty and reserve pilots who come to Robins to be trained, said Lt. Col. Philip Eilertson, Marine Aircraft Group 49 Detachment A commanding officer.

Some reservists come from as far away as California to get their flight hours.

Eilertson said Robins will house four Whiskey Cobras and three Yankee Hueys with a possibly fourth Huey coming in the spring of 2016.

There are four active duty Huey pilots and five active duty Cobra pilots along with two reserve Huey pilots and 18 reserve Cobra pilots.

The helicopters are flown to different ranges to do training. The Marines use Fort Benning, Fort Stewart and Grand Bay Range in Georgia for drill exercises.

Cobras are equipped with a maximum of 14 2.75-inch rockets, a 20mm Gatling cannon with 750 rounds of ammo capacity, eight 5-inch Zuni rockets and up to eight laser-guided Hellfire anti-tank missiles.

"The Cobra is a pure attack helicopter. The Huey can shoot and also carry supplies," said Eilertson.

The two most recent Cobras, which arrived April 14 and 23 have come from New River, N.C., where that base is receiving new models of the two helicopters. The third AH-1W arrived Monday.

Each aircraft has to have maintenance each time it flies.

"The only way we can do our job is for them to do theirs," Eilertson said of the helicopter maintenance crew.

Two pilots man the Cobra while the Huey has the capacity to have two pilots as well as two additional people in the cargo area. A Marine re-enlisted in the cargo area of the Huey during a recent flight.

Lt. Col. David Deep, a reservist Cobra pilot, was part of the re-enlistment. He was enthusiastic about the new helicopters coming to the base.

"It gives us more opportunity to train," Deep emphasized. He went on to explain that the flying becomes secondary. The difficult part comes in when coordinating missions with people on the ground.

The bottom line for the Marine group is that the new choppers will give pilots more opportunity to fly which means the pilots stay sharp in case they are called to action, Eilertson said.