Okay, so this is the Marine Corps Cobra attack helicopter that you know and love.  I took this picture out on the range during some Call For Fire training in Afghanistan about six years ago.  Things started to get really interesting during the night fire when our IR lasers stopped about 50 feet in front of us due to a giant cloud of dust created from previous gun runs.  The Marine pilots thought were were lazing something right in front of us and went ahead and dumped cannon fire from their minigun almost down on our laps.  Good times.

During a familiarization brief one of the pilots began telling us about how they had a HVT squirt off an objective a few months before we arrived in country.  Showing their now familiar gusto, the pilots landed, picked up several Rangers and flew them off in front of the HVT’s evasion route for an intercept.  “Huh, what?” was our initial response.  How did they pull that one off?

The pilot explained to us that in an emergency situation, or in a moment of inspiration like the squirter incident, that the door on the side of the helicopter that closes over where the minigun’s ammunition is loaded from can be dropped down where it would stay horizontal.  In this manner, several operators could snap into the handles on the ammo crate inside and ride while sitting on the open hatch sort of like the external pod on a Little Bird helicopter.

I was instantly having some John Wayne type fantasies about actually doing this but had never actually seen this done and remained unsure of how it would all shake out in combat conditions.  Pics or it didn’t happen, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before anyone goes nuts on me about OPSEC violations, these pictures were not taken by me or anyone I know.  These turned up on a Chinese language message board recently.  If there was any OPSEC regarding this TTP it is already well and truly blown so I’m not hesitant to re-post these images.  If anyone has any additional details about the events pictures above, please drop us a line!

Kit Up! contributor Jack Murphy is a former Ranger, Special Forces Soldier and is the author of the military thriller Reflexive Fire.

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

mpower6428 August 29, 2011 at 4:14 am

i heard about this (and seen these pics) more then a year ago…. where you been soldier. anyhoo, there's nothing more satisfying to a life long civilian with a left wing complex then pics of servicemen ready, willing and abile to break the rules.

i just wish the US military budget was less apt to fund "state of the art" weapons projects. (drones dont throw out the regs)

allow me to go further…. our military has never in its existance had so many out of the box, tech savy thinkers in its entire existance. one day defense experts will look back on this time in our history and shake their collective heads in disappointment…. "why couldnt these guys be retained" threw pay and bennifits. Hans von Seekt would be embarressed for us.

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jrexilius August 29, 2011 at 4:36 am

I think the phrase Semper Gumby predated this current war, but yes, I agree we have same great adaptability in the current generation. We did in WWII as well and the military was way less permissive of it then.

I think necessity is the mother of invention and it's hard to argue necessity in peace time and harder still to maintain discipline with no clear external threat so I can see us loosing it during the coming draw downs. Assuming they last long that is, which seems less likely than in the 80's and 90's.

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Flippy August 29, 2011 at 4:44 am

The Royal Marines did this a few years back with an Apache to rescue a fallen comrade form a compound, unfortunately by the time they got to him he had died.

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Flippy August 29, 2011 at 4:39 am

please delete this due to the typo

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Flippy August 29, 2011 at 4:44 am

The Royal Marines did this a few years back with an Apache to rescue a fallen comrade from a compound, unfortunately by the time they got to him he had died.

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FormerSFMedic August 29, 2011 at 4:53 am

Jack, I'm right there with ya. We had an A-10 spit a string of 30mm pills from its GAU8/Avenger not too far from our position in Afghanistan. Absolutely devastating destruction. I'm guessing the 20mm M197 was probably about the same. Good times for sure!

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reflexivefire August 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Marine pilots got some brass ones…

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Mark August 29, 2011 at 6:32 am

There is video from the IDF about two years ago showing the same thing I believe. I think another helicopter was down so they flew in with one or two guys on the skids and flew out with the crew. My memory is hazy on the details but I do know it was IDF and about two years ago.

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Todd August 29, 2011 at 6:45 am

This has been done with Cobras since Vietnam, actually. It's obviously never been an SOP, but often times just a necessity. And If I remember correctly, the above pictures we're from early on in A-stan, and it was necessary because of disabled vehicle, wounded pax, closing enemy.

The Army aparantly now has an SOP for this with the Apache, and is even courteous enough to give up the gunner (front) seat for the wounded/pax, and the AIRCEW member rides outside! (see page below for details)
http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.p

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Evulgenious August 29, 2011 at 9:54 am

There are features about an Apache helicopter that make this front seat ride to anybody but a qualified pilot very, very dangerous. It could be done on early model Apache's, but not now.

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hamchuck August 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Um… yes it can.

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Evulgenious August 29, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Really, dude? And just how do you turn off the SPAD system? Or, do you even know what that is?

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Panzerhund0311 August 29, 2011 at 7:32 am

Reminds me of the GI Joe "Dragonfly" helicopter that had the foot pegs to place a GI Joe guy to stand on. He would be standing on the skid to go and fight Cobra, "A ruthless, terrorist organization determined to rule the world".

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Payce August 29, 2011 at 8:41 am

I read somewhere about an Army Apache giving lifts to the crew of another shot down chopper, I'll try and find the article.

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Evulgenious August 29, 2011 at 9:50 am

Jack, send me an email to my private email and I will talk more about this with you. Despite being Navy, I was one of the very first mechanics to qualify on this airframe when it was still in its prototype stage.

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albud3 August 29, 2011 at 11:46 am

I was a 68J working on the AH-1F at Ft Campbell 80-83. This form of transport was used back in VN as relayed to us by our PLT leader…an old CWO4 with a couple of tours in country. While it was not a recommended form of travel back then, he said that they picked up fellow Cobra crews that had went down in VC/NVA country.

IIRC, the Marines have a similar setup on their SeaCobras, but they have rope loops on the wings near the attachment points.

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reflexivefire August 29, 2011 at 11:54 am

Gangster Status!

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deadhorse August 29, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I have a video of this exact same thing except with an Army AH-64 Apache, but not by sitting on the ammo compartment door. Used as emergency EXFIL.

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jack August 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Poster (from what I believe is the same incident) has been hanging on the wall at Navy flight school for the last couple of years. It was put up as a 'been there done that' from instructor to students to help build morale. Pretty cool.

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hamchuck August 29, 2011 at 2:39 pm

In my early days of flying the Apache– A-models then– one of our most senior guys was a Vietnam Cobra vet. In the seventies he was a member of an Army jump club and had use of a Huey. One day the Huey broke. So they fired up one of the Cobras and sat the jumpers exactly where they are in the article there. It didn't make his chain of command very happy, though.

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Nick August 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Those pics are from a documentary about a Marine reserve unit from Atlanta GA. That particular pic is of some SF soldiers who needed to be picked up and go after the guys who were firing on them. They strapped them to the ammo compartments and took off after the bad guys. I do beleive that was the first time it was ever attempted.
Nothing in that pic is a violation of OPSEC, it was on TV.

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Lance August 29, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Looks fun. You got me to think of a cool idea why don't the USMC and Army sell older AH-1G-T model cobras and make some money then?Greece and other made money selling M-60A1 tanks to Afghanistan and we just gave them M-60s and UH-1s for free lets charge them a bit for it.

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old Cobra pilot August 29, 2011 at 9:28 pm

was done on an infrequent basis in RVN with AH-1G's. My unit had seat belts clipped into the rings in the ammo bay for just such occasions. We also had an AH-1G pull what was left of a LRRP team straddling the rocket pods, facing aft.

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hamchuck August 30, 2011 at 3:57 pm

It's not a SPAD… dude. It's an ARDD. Difference between an Alpha model and a Longbow… dude. For the frontseater to take the controls, there's a specific sequence of events that has to happen. Do you know what that is… dude?

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hamchuck August 30, 2011 at 3:59 pm

And to specify, since you'll probably jump all over it, I mean to take the controls in way that completely locks out the back seater.

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Billy September 3, 2011 at 8:51 am

Is that how our military do drive bys???

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Marcus Piffer September 5, 2011 at 6:12 am

Really nice pics! I will quote this post at my blog!

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ssss September 7, 2011 at 6:06 am

Military Channel: Red Dog, On the Hunt.
NBC News Nightline with Ted Coppel http://www.specops.com/personnel#descriptiontop

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Kathy S. January 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm

@FormerSFMedic – I edited the 30mm HEI hits and then slowed them down. Bet this will make some muscles twitch :) http://twolftfeet.com/a10cas.html

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WTF? March 26, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I flew an AH-1G for the air cav in Vietnam. This method of extraction goes back that far. We always had two sets of a/c seat belts, already attached to hard points, on each side of our snakes in the ammo bays. All you had to do was open the door, sit down and buckle up. Although I never extracted this way, I have seen it done. Beats the heck out of outrunning the NVA back to your troop area.

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ALSE in Afghanistan December 11, 2013 at 10:25 am

Yes it can be done. The PMAirWarrior that provides all the aviation wearable gear even has a specific item called the Safety Restraint Tether with instructions in the manual for how to do it.

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Brad January 9, 2014 at 3:37 pm

I do know who on of these soldiers is. He is a good friend of mine that is an 18D. he was an E8 when this happened. He is now an E9 getting ready to retire.

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