FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — Combat training is happening in the skies over Fort Drum.

Every year soldiers are required to complete qualification training for their weapons system, which looks different for each branch.

At the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade’s Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield on Fort Drum, training is done with various military aircraft. Specifically for the 1-10 Attack Battalion, pilots must qualify in an AH-64 Apache.

Over a month-long period, the battalion leads its bi-annual gunnery training exercise. Crews shoot 30mm rounds of ammunition, rockets and hellfires in both pairs and teams.

According to Officer in Charge First Lieutenant Nicholas Kane, who also works for Current Operations at the Battalion level, this training exercise helps pilots of all experience levels prepare for potential combat situations.

“Any time we get to actually get in and use live ammunition is great for everyone and keeps us ready,” he said.

“Almost every year we have new pilots that come in. It’s their first gunnery with the unit. It can be challenging for them at times, but running through multiple tables and having experienced pilots and instructor pilots in the back seat to help them run through it is a world of help to them and it’s a great learning experience,” Kane said.

Because each Apache only seats two pilots, the gunnery exercise is a true test of team capabilities.

1LT Kane said this starts from the planning period, which can be months in advance, up until the aircraft returns to the ground at the end of training.

“Our morale and teamwork definitely goes up quite a bit during this” Kane said. “It’s one of the rare times that we can see during gunnery where a whole unit really comes together.”

The 1-10 Attack Battalion will continue with their gunnery training through the end of October.

During this time, the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade will provide support during the 10th Mountain Division’s largest military training exercise, Mountain Peak.

Heavy military traffic, including soldiers in vehicles and on foot, is possible between U.S. Route 11, State Route 26 and County Route 30, according to the Fort Drum Public Affairs Office. The highest activity is expected from Tuesday, October 12 through Saturday, October 22.