Tactical Airlift Requirement Increasing in Afghanistan

SrA. William Scarbrough, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, marshals a forklift onto a C-130J Super Hercules Dec. 13, 2017 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Air Force photo by SSgt. Divine Cox.

Tactical airlift crews in Afghanistan have seen a spike in operations as more troops flow in to that country, including increases in airdrops as well as providing fuel to austere locations.

Since arriving at Bagram Airfield in September 2017, the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron has flown 355 missions, including 1,655 combat sorties and more than 1,800 flight hours, according to an Air Forces Central Command release. The squadron also has airlifted 8,800 cargo tons, 14,400 passengers, 102 distinguished visitors, and 30 patients, Maj. Danny Bellissimo, the deputy officer for the squadron, said in the release. The crews have also flown two High Altitude Low Opening airdrops.

In addition to these missions, the squadron’s C-130Js have off loaded more than 300,000 pounds of fuel. In addition, the squadron has seen a 350 percent increase from the previous year in “wet-wing” defueling missions, where the aircraft lands at an austere location to provide fuel for aircraft there.

“We are doing so with the same amount of aircraft and people,” Bellissimo said in the release. “We’re just working more efficiently and effectively to maximize our limited resources.”

The aircraft and personnel are deployed from Little Rock AFB, Ark., and trained on these mission sets before deploying. In August, as part of the exercise Mobility Guardian at Fairchild AFB, Wash., Air Force Magazine witnessed Little Rock crews practicing hot defueling training as a spin-up for the deployment. Ground crews drove an R-11 refueling truck up to the aircraft as one wing’s engines stayed running and offloaded fuel quickly.