In the spring of 2002 there were war games conducted in the southeast. Here's the story and photos from Alan Brinson.
There are some major war games, involving US, French, German, and UK (?ground?) elements all over the SE US beginning today and lasting about 2 weeks. I've seen OP forces HIP and HIND helicopters. Went flying today, and Houston Center couldn't pick up the transponder, which they blamed on electronic jamming activity "West of your position" (presumably Camp Shelby).
These Photos were taken on the ramp at KHBG. Camp Shelby MOA is just a few miles off the end of runway 13 and R-4401 is just beyond that. The MOA was extended for these exercises to the end of runway 13. The restricted area is the impact area for the artillery and tank guns for the live fire exercises.
A BD-5J pilot was rescued by the Hip pilot. The BD-5J pilot 3 months ago owned 3 BD-5J's but is down to one now. I was told that he made a mistake landing the first one and flared 10 feet too high, stalled and cartwheeled tail over nose down the runway, destroying it (and not injuring himself!). Then last week, he was flying along, pretending to be a cruise missile, and his feet started getting hot. He looked down, saw flames, and decided he didn't want to be in the airplane anymore. He went vertical until his airspeed was low, went inverted, released the canopy, and released his seat harness, falling out of the airplane, to be found by the Hip. All the VEHICLES involved in this wargame have attached to them GPS transceivers that transmit to the controlling authority, wherever they are, the exact location of every vehicle involved, and in the case of aircraft, their altitude also. They were able to give the pilots of the Hip the exact Lat-Long of the last known transmission of the GPS on the BD-5, so there was no "Search" in the "search and recovery" operation. The flight profile of this BD-5 was to pretend to be launched from a British Cruiser just off shore in the Gulf, fly a particular route, and the ground forces were supposed to try to find him and pretend to prevent him from reaching his target. The Hind that was being used today, was the exact same helicopter seen in the movie "Air Force One" in the scene where the deposed head of state was supposed to be released from prison and was to board a helicopter. Harrison Ford was given the chance to fly this helicopter, and of course he accepted. You too can buy one direct from the factory in Russia for ~1.2 Million dollars. Much cheaper han any comparable western helicopter, but the FAA refuses to certify them, so they are experimental, and the operating costs are astronomical. The Hind weighs 25000 pounds, most if it armor, has three engines, burns 200 gallons an hour, and all the manuals are in Russian. The Hip, which carries a large number of troops, weighs only 18000. Our Apache weighs about 8000, according to one of the pilots. Spare parts can be bought, but take a LONG time to get here. One of the crew chiefs I talked to said that at least they can get spare parts now. When the program started, it was a black program, and all aircraft and parts were obtained covertly. He says they would literally have little furtive men in overcoats appear at their hangar, pull something from under their coats, hand it to him, whisper "here's your servo" and then disappear. The first few helicopters the US obtained were airlifted out of a country he refused to name, but after the fall of the soviet empire, you can buy all you want, and be picky about the quality.