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Pickup Zone and Landing Zone Operations

Section I


E-1. General.

This appendix serves as a small unit (company and below) leader's guide for the safe, efficient, and tactically sound conduct of operations in and around PZs and LZs.

E-2. Selection and marking.

Small unit leaders should be proficient in the selection and marking of PZs and/or LZs and in the control of aircraft.

a. Tactical and technical considerations (Chapter 3).

b. Marking PZs and LZs.

(1) Day. A ground guide will mark the PZ or LZ for the lead aircraft by holding an M16Al rifle over his head, by displaying a folded VS-17 panel chest high, or by other identifiable means.

(2) Night. The code letter Y (inverted Y) is used to mark the landing point of the lead aircraft at night. Chemical light sticks or "beanbag" lights may be used to maintain light discipline (Figure E-1).

Figure E-1. Inveted Y.

When more than one aircraft will be landing in the same PZ or LZ, there will be an additional light for each aircraft. For observation, utility, and attack aircraft, each additional aircraft landing point will be marked with a single light emplaced at the exact point that each aircraft is to land. For cargo aircraft (CH-47, CH-53, CH-54), each additional landing point will be marked with two lights. The two lights will be placed 10 meters apart and will be aligned in the aircraft direction of flight.

(3) Obstacles. These include any obstruction to flight which might interfere with aircraft operation on the ground (trees, stumps, rocks) and cannot be reduced. During daylight, the aircrew is responsible for avoiding obstacles on the PZ or LZ. For night and limited visibility operations, all obstacles will be marked with red lights. The following criteria will be used in marking obstacles:

(a) If the obstacle is on the aircraft approach route, both the near and far sides of the obstacle will be marked.

(b) If the obstacle is on the aircraft departure route, the near side of the obstacle will be marked.

(c) If the obstacle protrudes into the PZ or LZ, but is not on the flight route of the aircraft, the near side of the obstacle will be marked.

(d) Large obstacles on the approach route will be marked by circling the obstacle with red lights.

c. Control of aircraft. Approaching aircraft are controlled by the use of arm-and hand signals to transmit terminal guidance for landing. The signalman is positioned to the right front of the aircraft where he can best be seen by the pilot. Signals at night are given by using lighted batons or flashlights in each hand. When using flashlights, care will be taken to avoid blinding the pilot. Batons and flashlights will remain lighted at all times when signaling. The speed of arm movement indicates the desired speed of aircraft compliance with the signal.


Section II


E-3. General.

Prior to arrival of the aircraft, the PZ must be secured, PZ control party positioned, and the troops and equipment positioned in a unit assembly area.

a. Occupation of unit assembly area. Unit leaders should accomplish the following:

(1) Maintain all-round security of the assembly area.

(2) Maintain communications.

(3) Organize troops and equipment into chalks and loads in accordance with the unit air movement plan.

(4) Conduct safety briefing and equipment check of troops.

(5) Establish priority of loading for each man and identify bump personnel.

(6) Brief on the location of the straggler control points.

b. Movement to and occupation of chalk assembly area. Linkup guides from the PZ control party will meet with designated units in the unit assembly area and coordinate movement of chalks to a release point. As chalks arrive at the release point, chalk guides will move each chalk to its assigned chalk assembly area. (To reduce the number of personnel required, the same guide may be used to move the unit from the unit assembly area to the chalk assembly area.) If part of a larger air assault, no more than three chalks should be located in the chalk assembly area at one time. Noise and light discipline will be maintained throughout the entire movement in order to maintain the security of the PZ. Additionally, no personnel should be allowed on the PZ unless loading aircraft, rigging vehicles for slingload, or directed by PZ control. While remaining in chalk order, each soldier is assigned a security (firing) position by the chalk leader and emplaced in the prone position, weapon at the ready, and facing out (away from PZ) to provide immediate close-in security.

(1) An example of a large, one-sided PZ is depicted in Figure E-2.

Figure E-2. Large, one-sided PZ.

(2) An example of a small two-sided PZ with unit and chalk assembly areas is depicted in Figure E-3.

Figure E-3. Small, two-sided PZ.

(3) While in the chalk assembly area, units should adhere to the following principles for loading the aircraft:

(a) Maintain tactical integrity by keeping fire teams and squads intact.

(b) Maintain self-sufficiency by loading a weapon and its ammunition on the same aircraft (Dragon).

(c) Ensure key men, weapons, and equipment are cross-loaded among aircraft to prevent the loss of control, or all of a particular asset, if an aircraft is lost.

(d) Prior to loading, ensure all troop gear is tied down and checked; short antennas placed in radios, folded down, and secure.

(e) Squad and team leaders check the equipment of their men to ensure it is complete and operational.

(f) Radios on and communications check performed (unless directed otherwise).

(g) Specific aircraft seats are assigned to each man.

c. PZ closure. During platoon air assault operations the platoon sergeant is responsible for ensuring all personnel and equipment are loaded (clear the PZ) and security is maintained.

(1) Single lift. The platoon sergeant positions himself at the last aircraft and collects "bumped" men, if required. He will be the last man to load the aircraft. Once on the aircraft, the platoon sergeant (PSG) will notify the crew chief and/or AMC (using the troop commander's radio handset) that all personnel and equipment are loaded. Close-in security will be provided by the aircraft door gunners.

(2) Multiple lift. The duties of the PSG are the same as for a single lift. During a multiple lift, the security teams will maintain security of the PZ and be the last element to depart with the PSG. Depending on the initial locations) of the security teams, repositioning closer to the PZ may be necessary. Whenever possible, the aircraft will land as close to the security team positions as possible to enhance security and minimize the movement required by the teams.

d. UH-60 loading secuence. (Figure E-4).

Figure E-4. UH-60 loading diagram, split chalk.

(1) Chalk leader (squad leader) initiates movement once the aircraft has landed.

(2) The farside and nearside groups move to the aircraft in file with the chalk leader (CL) always leading the nearside group.

(3) Chalk leader should:

(a) Ensure all personnel know which aircraft and which position to load.

(b) Ensure all personnel wear or carry rucksacks on the aircraft.

(c) Notify the crew chief when all chalk members are on board and are ready for lift-off.

(4) All personnel will buckle up as soon as they are seated in their assigned seats. The chalk leader will always sit in the left front seat unless a platoon leader or company commander is on the same aircraft.

(5) The chalk leader will hand the chalk card to the pilot and answer any questions the pilot may have, utilizing the aircraft intercommunication (troop commander's) handset.

e. UH-60 loading sequence (Figure E-5).

Figure E-5. UH-60 loading diagram, whole chalk.

(1) The chalk leader (squad leader) initiates movement once the aircraft has landed.

(2) The farside and nearside groups move to the aircraft in file with the No. 1 man leading the load to the appropriate side (Figure E-5).

NOTE: The farside group will always move around to the front of the aircraft.

(3) The chalk leader will stop at the nearside of the aircraft to ensure the nearside group loads properly; then he moves around the front of the aircraft to the farside and checks the other half of the chalk.

(4) All personnel will buckle up as soon as they are seated in the correct seat.

(5) The chalk leader will hand the chalk card to the pilot and answer any questions the pilot may have, utilizing the aircraft's intercommunication (troop commander's) handset.

E-4. Landing zone operations.

Just as there is a priority of work for defensive operations, there is a priority of actions upon landing in an LZ.

a. Unloading. Unloading of the aircraft does not begin until directed by the crew chief or pilot (Figure E-6).

Figure E-6. UH-60 loading diagram.

(1)Once the aircraft has landed, personnel will unbuckle seatbelts and exit aircraft as fast as possible with all equipment.

(2) Prior to leaving the aircraft, the chalk leader will obtain the landing direction from the pilot if not determined during the approach into the LZ. This will aid in orientation to the LZ, particularly at night.

(3) Individuals will move 15 to 20 meters out from the side of the aircraft and assume the prone position facing away from the aircraft, weapons at the ready, until the aircraft has departed the LZ.

b. Immediate action on hot LZ. If the decision is made to use a hot LZ, or contact is made upon landing, troops quickly dismount and move 15 to 20 meters away from the aircraft and immediately return the enemy fire to allow the aircraft to depart.

(1) If the contact is similar to a far ambush, troops will fire and maneuver off the LZ to the closest side offering cover and concealment.

(2) If troops are engaged from nearby enemy positions, they treat it as a near ambush by immediately returning fire. Soldiers who consider themselves in the kill zone may assault the enemy positions or attempt to get out of the kill zone. Soldiers not in the kill zone will provide supporting fire to support the movement of troops in the kill zone.

(3) The squad or platoon leader will call for fire support if it is available.

(4) Once disengaged from the enemy force, the squad or platoon leader will move the unit to a covered and concealed position, account for personnel and equipment, and assess the situation as to whether or not the unit can continue the mission.

c. Chalk assembly on cold LZ. Upon unloading from the aircraft, the chalk leader (squad leader) will move the chalk to its predetermined locations using traveling overmatch movement techniques. All troops will move at a fast pace to the nearest concealed position. Once at the concealed assembly point, the chalk leader will make a quick count of personnel and equipment and then proceed with the mission.


Section III


E-5. General.

To ensure that an air assault is executed in an effective and efficient manner, key personnel are designated to perform specific duties. This section will address the duties and responsibilities of unit leaders during air assault operations and discuss the duties and responsibilities of key personnel in the PZ control party.

E-6. Unit leader duties and responsibilities.

Platoon air assault operations.

a. Platoon leader. He:

(1) Has overall responsibility for the air assault operation. May act as the PZCO.

(2) Plans the operation.

(3) Briefs subordinate leaders.

(4) Issues OPORD.

(5) Conducts rehearsals.

(6) Rides in the air mission commander's aircraft to ensure better command, control, and communication.

b. Platoon sergeant. He:

(1) Sets up the PZ.

(a) Supervises the marking of the PZ.

(b) Supervises the clearing of obstacles from the PZ.

(2) Briefs all chalk leaders.

(3) Supervises all activity on the PZ:

(a) PZ security.

(b) Movement of troops and equipment.

(c) Placement of chalks and slingloads.

(4) Devises and disseminates the bump plan.

(5) Rides in the last aircraft for control purposes and will ensure that the PZ is cleared.

c. Chalk leader. He:

(1) Briefs his personnel on their respective tasks and positions inside the aircraft.

(2) Ensures that the lights or panels (if required) for his aircraft are properly emplaced.

(3) Assigns respective areas of security to his personnel. Ensures that each soldier goes to his proper area.

(4) Supervises the loading of his squad and attachments into the aircraft to ensure that all personnel assume assigned positions and have buckled their lap belts.

(5) Keeps current on location by use of his map and communication with the aircraft crew, during air movement.

(6) Ensures, upon landing, that all personnel exit the aircraft quickly, rush to a safe distance (10 to 15 meters) from the aircraft, assume the prone position, and prepare to return enemy fire.

E-7. PZ control party.

The PZ control party is responsible for the organization, control, and all coordinated operations in the PZ. Keeping in mind the unit leader's duties and responsibilities previously stated, a PZ control party for a platoon air assault operation could be organized as depicted below:

a. PZ control officer. He is a rifle platoon leader.

b. PZ control noncommissioned officer in charge. He is a platoon sergeant.

c. RATELO, with three radios. One radio would monitor the combat aviation net for communication with the aircraft. The second radio would be used for communication with the platoon subordinate units. The third would operate in the company command net.

d. Chalk-linkup guides. There is one per chalk. Their primary duties are to assist in linkup and movement of chalks from the unit assembly area to the chalk assembly areas. For platoon-size air assault operations, these guides should come from the same chalk-squad they are assigned to.

e. Lead aircraft signalman. He is responsible for visual landing guidance for the lead aircraft. This signalman could come from the chalk or squad loading on the lead aircraft.

f. Slingload teams. A team includes a signalman and hookup men (two soldiers).


Section IV


E-8. General.

The purpose of this section is to describe air assault communications as they apply to a platoon air assault operation.

E-9. Communications.

a. During establishment and operation of a platoon PZ, communications must be maintained with the aviation elements to control the aircraft, the company, and the security teams.

b. During the air movement, radio listening silence will be maintained on the company and platoon radio nets unless directed otherwise.

(1) On board the aircraft, all leaders will communicate with the troops using predetermined arm-and-hand signals or stating the message or information on a piece of paper or event map.

(2) Communication with the aircraft crew is accomplished by using the troop commander's handset.

E-10. Inflight communications.

a. To communicate with the aircraft crew, the leader will ensure the channel selector switch on the troop commander's intercommunication system (ICS) is in the "ICS" position.

b. The UH-60 also has a troop commander's antenna coax connection which is located in the aircraft. This coax enables the leader to hook up his PRC-77 radio to the FM antenna on the aircraft. This feature allows communication over the unit's command frequency. Upon landing, the RATELO unhooks the antenna coax.

E-11. Landing zone communications.

Immediately after unloading the aircraft, the RATELO will check the radios and ensure they are reconfigured as necessary. Radio communications on the LZ will be on the command frequency. Arm-and-hand signals will be utilized along with messengers to improve noise discipline.

E-12. Fire support communications.

Each rifle platoon is supported by a forward observer party. The party is equipped with a PRC-77 which is used to call for, adjust, and direct fire support. The party maintains communication with both the supporting mortars and artillery.


Section V


E-13. General.

Three personnel are normally used as the ground crew in slingload operations on the PZ/LZ: a signalman, a static-probe man, and a hookup man.

E-14. Static-probe equipment.

The static electricity probe consists of an insulated contact rod joined to a length of metallic tape or wire, which in turn is attached to a ground rod. The ground rod is driven into the ground and the contact rod is held to the cargo hook of the helicopter by the static-probe man.

E-15. Protective equipment.

All ground crew personnel will wear the following protective equipment:

  • Helmet.
  • Protective mask or dust goggles.
  • Earplugs.
  • Gloves (with shirt sleeves rolled down).

E-16. Ground crew emergency procedures.

In an emergency, the ground crew will move to the helicopter's right and the helicopter will move to its left.

a. The signalman will move out of the helicopter's flight path by moving to the helicopter's right.

b. The hookup team will work on the right side of the load in order to move out to the right of the aircraft in case of emergencies.


Section VI


E-17. General.

Prior to an air assault operation, the unit chain of command will give a safety briefing to all personnel. All leaders will enforce strict safety measures when working with helicopters.

E-18. Safety briefing checklist.

Include, as a minimum, the following:

a. Identification tags and earplugs will be worn at all times when near or in an aircraft.

b. Helmets with chin straps fastened will be worn at all times.

c. Helicopter safety measures.

(1) UH-1Hs and UH-60s are approached from the front, forward of the rear cargo doors. DO NOT go near the tail of the aircraft.

(2) Approach and depart helicopters in the crouched position for extra clearance below the main rotor blade.

(3) Move to or from helicopters on sloping ground on the DOWN slope side to avoid the main rotor.

d. Shirt sleeves will be rolled down whenever working with aircraft.

e. M16 rifles will be carried with the muzzle pointed DOWNWARD, pistol grip forward, bolt closed, magazine in the weapon, and weapon on SAFE. Rounds will NOT be chambered; bayonets will not be fixed.

f. Hand grenades will be secured.

g . Short antennas will be bent completely down and long antennas will be tied down when using radios in proximity of helicopters.

h. Seatbelts are fastened upon entering the helicopter and left buckled until the crew chief signals to exit the aircraft.

i. In the event of a forced landing, all personnel will lean forward with their heads down until the aircraft comes to rest. No one will exit the aircraft until the main rotor has stopped.


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