LAS VEGAS — The 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing has wrapped up 2013 with its last shipment of the year — one that will be used to champion remotely piloted airpower during 2014 and, hopefully, beyond.
Three C-17 crews arrived from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., on Dec. 30, 2013, to load their aircraft with remotely piloted aircraft equipment that will be used in support of the Air Force’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission down range.
During the transfer, 46 cargo increments of equipment weighing approximately 64.2 short tons, or more than 128,000 pounds, were loaded onto the C-17s.
“As a hub for RPA operations, we’re intimately involved in supporting and sustaining Combatant Commanders’ aircraft, personnel and equipment requirements,” said Maj. Joshua, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “We’re the logistics experts and backbone that directly support RPA combat air patrol growth, and our ability to master those processes enables our aircrew to deliver the desired results to Combatant Commanders and ground forces.”
The combined efforts of a multitude of units, including the 432nd Maintenance Group, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 432nd Operations Support Squadron, 99th Logistics Readiness Squadron, the Installation Deployment Officer, and many others, made the cargo transfers possible. Each mission of this nature requires planning and coordination from about 60-80 people.
Joel, the Installation Deployment Officer, said his job is to work with the various units to identify what cargo is needed, build the cargo package in the logistics module and coordinate with the Air Terminal to load the aircraft, determine any hazardous cargo, and ensure the load plan and logistics module reflect the hazards.
The IDO also works with U.S. Transportation Command to notify any countries being overflown what hazards are on the aircraft, and with Air Combat Command to determine requirement dates, which helps ensure on-time arrival of cargo.
“The equipment takes one to two weeks to prepare. During that time the Air Terminal conducts a joint inspection with the unit to ensure paperwork and weights are correct before the aircraft arrives.” Joel said. “In addition, the unit also prepares any other items needed, such as wood to put underneath the cargo when it’s in the aircraft.”
Next, the 432nd Maintenance Group prepares the equipment and takes it to the staging area to be inspected and placed in different aircraft loads. After that task is complete, the Air Terminal documents the weights and creates a final load plan.
“Finally, a package that documents what each aircraft will carry is created for the aircraft loadmaster. Each aircraft will only be on the ground for 2 hours and 45 minutes, so load teams have to be careful to ensure on-time takeoffs,” Joel said.
Joel said missions such as these contribute to the Air Force’s greater ISR mission by providing key aircraft and capabilities at the right time and place to U.S. and coalition troops overseas.
“This package enables us to provide ISR support for forces on the ground,” he said.
“This is as much a priority mission for Nellis as it is for Creech. Ultimately, this mission is strengthening allied cooperation and increasing the capability for remotely piloted air power around the globe.”