Defense

April 18, 2012

Airdrops could play key role in eventual Afghanistan transition

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Greg C. Biondo
Bundles of jet fuel are delivered to an undisclosed location in Afghanistan via airdrop by a C-17 Globemaster III, on March 28, 2012. The C-17 is one of three aerial resupply platforms utilized by U.S. Air Forces Central's Air Mobility Division. In 2011, the AMD directed the dropping of more than 58,000 bundles comprising more than 80 million pounds of critical supplies to personnel in austere combat outposts.

During 2011, mobility airmen airdropped more than 80 million pounds of cargo for troops deployed throughout austere locations in Afghanistan.

In the future, the Air Force expects airdrops to continue as troops move out of Afghanistan in coming years.

In March, Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, International Security Assistance Force commander in Afghanistan, said in a Department of Defense report “the starting point of analysis” for the U.S.-coalition fighting force in Afghanistan in 2013 will be the withdrawal of 23,000 surge troops after the 2012 fighting season.

Allen said after those 23,000 surge forces move out of the country, a sizable presence will remain, to include 68,000 U.S. forces, and up to 40,000 ISAF forces. So what does this mean? Planners at Air Forces Central’s Air Mobility Division in Southwest Asia say the Air Force expects airdrop planning will likely be a part of that analysis since it has become one of the leading means of resupply for the troops there.

Throughout the first three months of 2012, mobility Airmen airdropped more than 12.9 million pounds of cargo for troops on the ground in Afghanistan. Col. James Ray, chief of the Air Mobility Division at the Combined Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia which manages airdrop missions, said they will fully support an Afghanistan transition.

“Simply put, we will follow General Allen’s plan — fully supporting the ISAF commander’s mission objectives to the fullest extent possible,” Ray said.

 

How the OEF airdrop capability grew

Throughout more than 10 1/2 years of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, hundreds of millions of pounds of cargo has been airdropped. In fact according to statistics from Air Forces Central, more than 193 million pounds of supplies were delivered by airdrop between 2007 and 2011.

In delivering those supplies, the U.S. Army, Air Mobility Command, AFCENT and Mobility Air Forces from around the globe worked together to build more and more efficient airdrop platforms. One that has received a lot of attention lately is the Joint Precision Airdrop System, or JPADS.

JPADS is a high-altitude, all-weather capable, global positioning system-guided, precision airdrop system that provides increased control upon release from the aircraft. Traditional airdrops by Air Force airlifters, such as the C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III, are performed at altitudes between 400 and 1,000 feet. With JPADS, those same airlift aircraft have the potential to guide air drop bundles from as high as 25,000 feet.

Early on in precision airdrops, AMC was part of an effort to take the idea of something like JPADS and make it a reality. In November 2005, AMC instituted a JPADS “Tiger Team” that included representation from dozens of agencies at command headquarters, including the Combat Operations Division, Plans and Programs, and the Air Mobility Warfare Center (now U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center) at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

By Aug. 31, 2006, the combined team – which also included personnel from the Air Mobility Battlelab and the Air Force Weapons School – was successful. Their work paid off when the first combat airdrop using JPADS took place over Afghanistan.

In addition to JPADS, there is also the Improved Container Delivery System that allows for improved precision by factoring in the altitude, wind speed, wind direction, terrain and other circumstances that might affect an air drop.

For example, a C-17 Globemaster III can carry up to 40 CDS bundles for a combat airdrop mission. Each of those bundles are built by U.S. Army parachute riggers who jointly work with the Air Force airlift community to have them delivered to ground troops in remote regions of Afghanistan. Mobility aircraft that have supported the airdrop effort include C-130Hs and C-130Js as well as C-17s. These aircraft are assigned to expeditionary airlift squadrons throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to include bases in Southwest Asia as well as at Bagram and Kandahar Airfields in Afghanistan.

 

Supporting a transition

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in DOD news March 15 that as a “security transition” continues through 2012, and as International Security Assistance Force troops first step back from a combat role and largely drawdown from Afghanistan in 2014, planning what happens up to and after that milestone is increasingly important.

“In the discussions I just completed with President Karzai and … other leaders, we really did focus on strategy for the future” and what needs to happen up to the end of 2014 and beyond, the secretary said in the report.

While strategy is continuously forming for a transition, mobility Airmen and the rest of the coalition team will continue to resupply troops as they have for more than a decade.

“We expect the airdrop demand to decrease as the number of boots on the ground is reduced,” Ray said. “However, that will not change our mission priority. The needs of our joint and coalition partners on the ground will be met.”

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Army photograph by John Andrew Hamilton

Improved Multiple Launch Rocket System tested at White Sands Missile Range

Army photograph by John Andrew Hamilton A Multiple Launch Rocket System with an improved armored cab fires a training rocket during a test. The rockets were simple training rockets and not equipped with a warhead, but still gen...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Christopher Callaway

AF Special Operations Command receives first AC-130J

Air Force photograph by Amn. Kai White A crowd gathers to view the inside of the Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider at Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The aircrews of the 1st Special Operatio...
 
 
Marine Corps photograph by Cpl. Anne K. Henry

Marines: F-35B squadron ready for worldwide deployment

Marine Corps photograph by Cpl. Anne K. Henry An F-35B Lightning II prepares to taxi on the flight deck of the USS Wasp during night operations at sea as part of a Marine Corps operational test, May, 22, 2015. The Marines’ de...
 

 
Boeing photograph

CH-46 ‘Phrog’ makes its last hop

Boeing photograph The CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter commonly known as the “Phrog,” is set to retire and to be flown one last time by Reserve Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 774 on Aug. 1. The CH-46 Sea Knight is a med...
 
 

Advanced Extremely High Frequency system achieves IOC

Gen. John Hyten, the Air Force Space Command commander, declared initial operational capability for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system July 28. The significant achievement reflects collaboration between numerous organizations, including Headquarters Air Force Space Command, the Space and Missile Systems Center, Army, Navy and the developers, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman. The s...
 
 
Navy photograph

Surface-to-surface missile test for LCS successful

Navy photograph Three missiles from a ripple fire response strike their moving targets during an engineering development test of modified Longbow Hellfire missiles. The missile system, designated the Surface-to-Surface Missile ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>