CLB-15: Helicopter Support Team

31 May 2023 | Cpl. Aidan Hekker The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

The helicopter support team is responsible for the rapid transportation of cargo via helicopter when it cannot be transported by ground or needs to be transported from ship to shore. In this exercise, the HST partnered with a CH-53E Super Stallion attached to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361 to test a new lift operation method utilizing wheel-nets to carry a Polaris MRZR, an ultra-light turbo diesel combat vehicle.

With a lift capacity of 36,000 pounds, the Super Stallion effortlessly lifted the 2,100-pound Razor. However, the primary focus of the training exercise was on the stability and speed that the wheel-nets provided. As both teams completed runs, they discussed the chain and cable tension points to improve load stability. This allowed the helicopter to fly faster, mitigating concerns about losing the load.

The exercise was part of a comprehensive training program aimed at preparing the teams for various scenarios they may encounter during the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit's deployment.

“The team did an excellent job testing these wheel-nets for future potential support." 1st Lt. Elyzabeth Duarteruiz, air delivery officer assigned to CLB-15

As part of the 15th MEU, HSTs are responsible for the rapid transportation of cargo via helicopter. The use of wheel-nets to carry vehicles such as the MRZR or other equipment significantly enhances the MEU's ability to transport supplies and equipment to and from the battlefield. Using wheel-nets, HSTs can quickly and efficiently load and unload cargo from helicopters, reducing the time required to transport essential supplies and equipment.

“HST’s are an underutilized capability of transportation,” said Duarteruiz. “They provide a unique capability for resupply and recovery of all types of gear in environments where ground transportation is not applicable or very challenging.”

Under Force Design 2030, the Marine Corps is transitioning to smaller, more agile, mobile, and lethal units, known as Marine Littoral Regiments. HSTs will continue to play a critical role in supporting these units by providing rapid transportation of personnel and equipment to and from the battlefield.

The use of wheel-nets aligns with the Marine Corps' focus on innovation and technology to improve its operational capabilities. As new technologies and operational concepts emerge, HSTs will need to adapt quickly to support the evolving needs of the Marine Corps. The use of wheel-nets is an example of how HSTs are adapting to meet these changing requirements.

Overall, the use of wheel-nets provides an innovative and efficient way to transport essential supplies and equipment to and from the battlefield while also demonstrating the Marine Corps' commitment to innovation and modernization.