The firefighting crew on the first of two Black Hawk helicopters to enter combat duty in Iraq said their work was the most challenging they had ever done.
The Black Hawk is a single-engine, three-engine turboprop aircraft built for the U.S. military.
The first of its kind, it will be used to fight fire in urban environments from Afghanistan to Iraq.
“It is very important to us that our crews, the first one out of the gate and the last one out, that they know that they’re part of something that is very dangerous,” Lt.
Brian Anderson, an aviation operations officer with the Black Hawk firefighting team, told the AP.
“We’re very proud of that.”
The Black Hawk was launched on Jan. 17, 2002, and the mission is to deliver a lethal payload to Iraqi civilians.
Anderson, who joined the Black Hawks as a pilot in 2008, said it’s the most dangerous part of the job.
He said the crew can expect to fire as many as 20 rounds a minute and their helicopter can’t land unless it can get to a safe area.
“The Blackhawk is an iconic American asset and we feel very proud to be part of it,” he said.
Anderson said the team also will be making its first appearance on U.N. humanitarian missions.
“For us, the U,N.
is the only place we’ve been and we’ve seen so many amazing things,” he added.