You may have noticed some construction happening right off the intersection of Tempe Street and Phoenix Street. The sign outside proclaims it the HC-130J Aerial Delivery Facility, a project that has been ongoing since mid-2012. It’s getting close to completion, and the 563rd Rescue Group plans to open the doors in July.
Rescue personnel will use the new building to construct and rig airdrop loads.
“When we shifted from the HC-130P to the HC-130J, we acquired new rescue capabilities, one of which is a better capacity for airdrops,” said Master Sgt. Thomas Jones, 563rd Operations Support Squadron chief of aerial delivery. “Along with these new capabilities comes more responsibility, and we have to make sure our Airmen are properly trained.”
Rescue personnel are required to maintain currency and proficiency in completing airdrops.
The loads are actually called container delivery systems, and can contain any number of things vital to the success of a rescue mission.
Training drops are conducted three to four times a week to ensure continued proficiency. A CDS can weigh anywhere from 500 to 2,200 pounds.
For training purposes, crews drop water barrels or steel boxes to simulate a heavy weighted CDS.
“During real world operations, we would drop water, ammo, Meals Ready to Eat,” Jones said. “Anything that would help resupply our troops.”
The new building is about 25,000 square feet, and is slated to house nine personnel, three loadmasters and six riggers, along with a parachute packing room and a wood working room, among other things.
The shop was previously located in Building 4845, which they shared with stored aircraft Benson tanks and aircraft maintenance equipment.
“Most times, out in theater drops are made where there is no airfield, so an aircraft has no place to land,” Jones said. “A typical day in Afghanistan would see 100 to 150 bundles of resupply dropped a day, usually to forward operating bases and combat outposts. Places where if we don’t get it to them, they won’t get it.”