Inside Fort Drum's 'Falcon's Peak' Exercise

Inside Fort Drum's 'Falcon's Peak' Exercise

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Tactics are changing for the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade with a renewed emphasis on some old school moves, flying low to the ground and using the terrain to get an advantage.

"They're on alert all the time at that low level and that's why it's just a very demanding mode of flight," said Col. Clair Gill, Commander 10th CAB.

For a decade, the nation's enemies have not had the firepower to match the U.S. so helicopters flew high in the air, out of range of enemy weapons, but with more and more of the nation's foes getting their hands on long range firepower, the Army is preparing for what they call "peer" or "near-peer" forces - enemies of equal strength.

"Sometimes, as I look at threats out there, I start thinking maybe we're the peer or the near-peer. So as those threats evolve, as they're being proliferated around the world, it doesn't matter what region, they (weapons) can be sold and bought, we've gotta be ready to counter them," said Gill.

While flying low helps avoid those long range threats, it puts short range weapons back on the radar.

To prepare for that, a number of soldiers will be spread out across the training area with shoulder mounted rocket launchers. Though they aren't actually a weapon, they shoot a UV beam at passing helicopters to simulate a threat.

The higher a helicopter is, the longer an enemy has to spot it.

"And they have plenty of time, cause you're gonna be able to watch them for about 5 miles as they fly by," said Gill.

But fly low, and they're gone more quickly.

The exercise will take the aviation brigade off post as far as Vermont and into parts of the Adirondacks as well.

Convoys will be out on roadways so there will be some increase in traffic until April 18 and you can expect a lot of noise when the choppers fly overhead, though they'll be gone in a flash.

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