The Air Force helicopter Aerial Gunner is critical to the success of training, test and combat missions – operating airborne weapon systems and associated equipment. During infil/exfil, resupply, emergency close air support, and CSAR missions the Aerial Gunner is constantly on the alert for hostile fire and suppressing ground fire as required to insure the safety of the crew and successful accomplishment of the mission.
There is a lot more to being a helicopter gunner than just shooting the gun. From preflight inspections of the helicopter, to constantly scanning for threats and/or obstacles, NVG operation, safety of passengers and special ops teams, deployment of AIE equipment (ropes, ladders...), hoist operation and assisting the flight engineer with system problems as needed.
The Aerial Gunner provides that extra set of eyes to alert other crew members of any situations that may in some way prevent successful completion of the mission.