Thursday, May 24, 2018

Joint Base Charleston C17s fill the skies over South Carolina

Training mission: Joint Base Charleston

Fifteen C-17s took off from Joint Base Charleston on May 22.

The media and elected officials were invited to ride along during training. The C-17s took off around 12:25 p.m., did a flyover at the Ravenel Bridge then conducted an airdrop over North Field. They then performed a flyover at the Statehouse in Columbia then conducted low-level training in Tennessee and returned to Charleston around 3:30 p.m. -- all in a day’s work.

“It’s not just to practice our training and armor-ability exercise but to also involve the community and our civic leaders so that everyone can be a part of our mission and learn about what we do,” said Lt. Alejandra Fontalvo, a public affairs officer with Joint Base Charleston.

This type of training happens often at Joint Base Charleston — what made it unique was the coordinated effort of different military units that also included meeting up with two F-16s in Columbia during the flight over the Statehouse.

The massive cargo planes that are a common sight in the skies over the Lowcountry make up a unique part of the U.S. military's arsenal. The 15 planes that participated in Tuesday's Rapid Global Mobility drill are a small group of the 40-plus planes located at the air base next to Charleston International Airport.

"Our Rapid Global Mobility force is a partnership between active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian workforces, working together to execute the air mobility mission around the world," said Col. Jimmy Canlas, 437th Airlift Wing commander. "Our Mobility Airmen enable the joint fight. Without our critical capabilities, combatant commanders would not be able to rapidly get the right people and equipment to the right place and time."

Tuesday exercise included paratroopers and critical equipment that was dropped to simulate a joint forcible entry of the global response force. The planes included those from the 437th and 315th Airlift Wings simulating support for the U.S. Army’s 509th Infantry Regiment based at Fort Polk, Louisiana. The formation also included two, F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 169th Fighter Wing, South Carolina Air National Guard, from McEntire Joint National Guard Base.

Prior to Tuesday's flight, Gov. Henry McMaster praised the coordinated effort.

“South Carolina’s commitment to a strong American military will be on full display ... when the brave men and women from Joint Base Charleston fly over the Ravenel Bridge and the State House on their way to supporting training exercises in Louisiana,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “I encourage every South Carolinian to take this opportunity tomorrow to pray for the safety of all of our men and women in uniform who serve our country so selflessly.”

Rainy weather scrubbed some of the plans, but allowed the air group to make their drops and perform low-level flights through the valleys of Tennessee, which at sometimes seemed uncomfortably close to the ground. So close in fact that automatic warnings could be heard during the flight blaring, "terrain, terrain" and "Obstacle, obstacle."

The low-level practice gives crews practice in avoiding enemy radar as well as teaches them the limits of the huge flying warehouses. Cargo is loaded and dropped through a large rear door big enough to accommodate M1 Abrams tank.

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