1st Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment
The mission of the 1st Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, is to destroy enemy armor, mechanized and other forces, using fire and manuever as an integated member of the combined arms team.
The 1-135th Aviation Battalion prepares combat-ready forces, and on order mobilizes, deploys, and organizes for combat and conduct attack helicopter operations in support of division scheme of maneuver.
On 07 September 2001, the Army announced a significant acceleration of the Aviation Modernization Plan. This acceleration advances the retirement of aging aircraft and reduces the number of helicopters in the active and Reserve components. By the end of 2004, there will no longer be AH-1 Cobras in the Army; by that date, the Army's operational helicopter fleet will contain only AH-64 Apaches. By the end of 2002, attack helicopter battalions in heavy divisions will be restructured from 24 to 18 AH-64 Apaches. Corps level attack battalions will be converted from 24 to a maximum of 21 aircraft. This unit is one of six Army National Guard battalions that wil convert from the AH-1 Cobra to the AH-64 Apache under this plan.
Modernization is underway in Missouri Army National Guard aviation. 1st Battalion, 135th Aviation, commonly known as 1st Attack, began receiving the AH-64 Apache helicopters in 2001, with a full fielding of the aircraft in 2002. The Apache replaceed Missouri's current attack helicopter, the AH-1 Cobra. The Apache has several benefits above the Cobra, it is an all-weather fighter, has advanced laser-designated missile systems, and superior target acquisition and hand-off capabilities. It is a complex aircraft, even more complex than the F-15.
Rep. Ike Skelton and Sen. Christopher Bond have both been strong supporters of the aviation modernization. Skelton went to Whiteman Air Force Base, the home of 1st Attack, in April 1999 to announce the plans for the Apache when they were finalized. The process has been long and arduous. Col. Dalton Wright, 35th Aviation Brigade commander and Maj. Gen. John Havens (adjutant general) were instrumental in going to Congress and National Guard Bureau and selling Missouri to receive the Apache.
One of the reasons the unit was chosen to field the Apache is because of its location on Whiteman Air Force Base. The base is already home to the 509th B-2 Bomber Wing and the 442nd A-10 Reserves. With the high security and excellent facilities, coupled with 1st Attack's strong unit record, they were tagged to receive the aircraft.
Initially, the 1st Attack was concentrating on making the transition as smooth as possible. The Apache meant more full-time positions and slightly more traditional Guard slots. Many unit members had to change military occupational specialties, a process they had already started.
The 1st Battalion 135th Aviation is made up of five companies, these companies have different missions. A, B, and C companies are the line companies of the Battalion. Headquarters and Headquarters Company provides all support (except Aviation Maintenance) for the Battalion. D Company provides all Aviation Maintenance assets for the Battalion.
The entire 1st Battalion, 135th Aviation Army Guard became a member of the Whiteman AFB community in 1996. In the past only the 135th Aviation unit was housed at Whiteman.
While most Missourians watched the situation in Kosovo on the nightly news, some have been a little closer to the action. Seven soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 135th Aviation, Jefferson City, deployed for annual training at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy. They were there in support of the 509th Signal Battalion. When they first got there, they were doing standard work orders, but they had to drop everything to support operations in Kosovo. The group arrived in Italy a few days after the bombing started by NATO forces on March 24. Their flight was delayed in Brussels because of all the increased air traffic, according to Edwards. Caserma Ederle was locked down much of their stay because of safety concerns. There is a large Serbian population in the area and there were several anti-American demonstrations while they were there. Because of the Kosovo situation, the Caserma Ederle posted guards outside civilian sector warehouses and the communications section was responsible for running phone lines to their positions. They also had to run special conferencing line to the headquarters and worked on connecting new and renovated buildings to the system.
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