5-5 to Yuma

November 05, 2012

Dear Members and Friends,

Tucked away up in the Northwest United States, at Fort Lewis, Washington is the 5-5 Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Battalion. The 5-5 ADA Battalion is one of two pure Avenger Battalions in our nations active Army with the other being the 2-44 ADA Battalion out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

These elite soldiers of the 5-5 ADA Battalion, with three firing batteries, that make up a total of 36 Avenger trucks that fire eight Stingers, an automated 50 caliber per truck, and two Sentinel radars per firing battery have all just returned from a successful joint mission with the U.S. Marines out of Yuma, Arizona at the Yuma Proving Ground and Barry Goldwater Range. Their joint mission consisted of duplicating a potential Middle East situation of a Marine amphibious attack where the 5-5 ADA Battalion worked side by side with the Marines in securing and defending the vital airport for Marine operations as well as the command and control there.

The U.S. Marines have an Air Defense Battery that is made up of 30 teams of three Marines each with Stinger missiles. They are not as capable as the U.S. Army Avenger units that have better command and control, radars, and a tied in mobile network that can gather sensory data and coordinate that data to a far greater extent. Avengers are able to get out in front of the defended area with low view radars called Sentinels, in a continual mobile capability, if required, to defend out in front rather than be on the air base itself. The Avenger was originally designed to stand off the Soviet type helicopters of the 1980s and now have adapted to handle Unmanned Vehicle Systems (UVS) as well as aircrafts. They will soon change again to have a combination of Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM) guns with their Avengers for defense of Forward Operating Bases (FOBs).

Coordination of brother services is a must for efficiency, effectiveness, and affordability as the use of both service’s assets forms a formidable force that can deter as well as defend. The U.S. Marines bring forward very capable mobile radars, the AN/TPS-59(V3) and AN/MPQ-61, that gather all early warnings of aircraft and missiles giving search radars of Ballistic Missile and Air Defense Systems queuing so as to pinpoint their energies on specific sectors.

The growing threat from UVS’s, in the Middle East, that allow standoff capability in coordination with sending real time firing information to enemy artillery, aircraft, and missiles, presents a real sophisticated threat to the forward deployed forces that are in harm’s way.

This Marine/Army ADA exercise that lasted from October sixth to the twentieth had great success firing 35 stingers and 740 50 caliber rounds that resulted in the qualification of the new crews of 15 Avengers. More importantly, the exercise gave more than 250 soldiers confidence and experience using their systems, with their teammates, in a potential conflict with Iran and some of the other threats in the Middle East.

These Avenger systems need greater and more capability to extend their ranges even further against growing UVS threats. However, one of the most important and valuable requirements for them to work with maneuvering combat units is heavy armor on their lightly armored Avengers to protect their two man crews. Then increasing their range and capability by use of proximity fuses allowing munitions intercepts as well as extending the range by adapting to current AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.

It is significant to see the Army work with the Marines and their maneuvering combat forces. We hope they continue to do so as practice makes perfect in defeating and deterring a national security situation when our Marines are called to action.

MDAA was honored to visit and recognize the Soldiers of the 5-5 ADA in Fort Lewis, Washington after their return from Yuma.

Semper Fi

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