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August 3, 2012

418th FLTS takes testing new C-130 airdrop system to whole new level

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by Jet Fabara
412th TW Public Affairs
Air Force photograph by Bobbi Zapka
The last test container bundle in a string of seven bundles exits a C-130J during a High Speed Container Delivery System test June 22. HSCDS testing began in June and involves the 418th Flight Test Squadron conducting the tests with the assistance from the 412th Operations Support Squadron Developmental Airdrop Rigging Shop and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Engineering and Development Center.

What was initially known as the most commonly used airdrop method for the aerial insertion of supplies for military and contingency operations called the Container Delivery System, the 418th Flight Test Squadron and the C-130 Flight Test Team at Edwards is taking that same airdrop method and testing it at a whole new level and speed.

Currently called the high speed container delivery system, this new system the team is testing was designed to deliver supplies to troops on the ground from lower altitudes and higher airspeeds from a C-130J.

“The purpose of the test is to demonstrate the HSCDS airdrops from a C-130J aircraft at the altitudes and airspeeds of new Army requirements,” said Chris Webber, 418th Flight Test Squadron airdrop testing lead engineer. “Edwards was chosen because this system requires developmental testing and evaluation to ensure its compatibility with the C-130J.”

With testing commencing in June, the 418th FLTS began conducting the tests with the assistance from the 412th Operation Support Squadron Developmental Airdrop Rigging Shop and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Engineering and Development Center, according to Webber.

“Part of the testing involves increasing the drop airspeed from 140 knots to 245 knots; reducing drop altitude to 250 feet above ground; and using a parachute to extract up to eight 2,000-pound supply containers which would have been gravity-dropped in the past,” added Webber.

In addition to the airdrop testing, the team will evaluate how using this airdrop system will affect other areas like aircraft structural limitations and aircrew workload.

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Jones, 418th Flight Test Squadron C-130J flight test loadmaster, evaluates the cargo area July 13 during a high speed container delivery system test on a C-130J. The 418th FLTS and the C-130 Flight Test Team at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., is currently testing a new airdrop method called the high speed container delivery system. This new system is designed to deliver supplies to troops on the ground from lower altitudes and higher airspeeds from a C-130J.

“After these initial developmental tests on the C-130J are completed, the system will go through operational test & evaluation by Air Mobility Command and the Army,” Webber said. “This airdrop system is concurrently being tested on other cargo aircraft types at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.”

According to team members, the new system will not only provide speed when delivering cargo but will add safety to aircrew and the new airdrop method as well.

“HSCDS is a very unique airdrop that is combining a portion of current C-130J CDS and Low Velocity Air Drop procedures into an airdrop that will provide the warfighter a more accurate airdrop capability without putting the aircraft into a vulnerable aircraft airspeed that is currently required in these types of current airdrops,” said Master Sgt. Jason Griego, SNCOIC of C-130 Flight Test Programs.

“Due to the higher speed and lower altitude of the drops, the aircraft will also be less exposed to small arms fire from adversaries on the ground, and it will be easier for aircrew to climb out over nearby steep terrain, than compared to the standard CDS airdrop system,” added Webber. “This system is designed to put the supply containers closer together, closer to the desired point of impact, making the ground team’s task of recovery less dangerous when in a combat zone.”

In addition to the safety aspects of this new system, aircrew members have discovered efficiencies that will benefit airdrop methods, according to Griego.

“HSCDS testing has also helped to uncover an important procedural step that was being missed in C-130J operational towplate airdrops,” Griego said. “Our experience in airdrop capabilities has led to a change in current loadmaster operations and could result in fewer airdrop malfunctions ensuring that warfighters get the critical airdrop supplies needed in combat operations.”

HSCDS testing is expected to end in late August.




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