AL ASAD, Iraq -- Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 has performed yet another first with their new KC-130J during its combat theater debut.
In the early morning hours of April 16, a single KC-130J cargo plane delivered needed supplies to Forward Operating Base Korean Village, a remote outpost in the Iraqi desert.
However, the aircraft did not land to offload its cargo. Instead, it successfully conducted the aerial delivery of these supplies to the Marines on the ground.
Aerial delivery is not new to many of the VMGR-252 Marines. Some of the crew are veterans of operations in Afghanistan where similar parachute drops were conducted by older Marine KC-130 aircraft. But this is the first combat aerial delivery for the J model, and it's another success for these Marines with the new J in Iraq.
"Aerial delivery is one mission we do that requires the entire crew to come together as a tight team to accomplish the mission", said Capt. James Palmer, 34, and native of Tempe, Ariz., the aircraft commander for the mission. "The J now allows us to be even better. The computer technology and state of the art avionics and navigation allow both consistent and accurate delivery of cargo on the drop zone."
The ability to perform such missions is important today. One highly publicized aspect of the war in Iraq are the improvised explosive devices the supply convoys encounter. The insurgents know the cargo they carry is critical to the success of operations in Iraq, and they make every effort to target them.
Corporal Brandon Hagy, 21-years-old, of Richmond, Va., summed it up. "This kind of mission will help tremendously. Every drop we do could save lives since fewer trucks will need to risk the trip. We dropped 16 container delivery system bundles totaling 22,430 pounds of supplies in one pass."
Hagy, a loadmaster who did similar drops in the older model KC-130 in Afghanistan, said there was virtually no difference in his job between the two aircraft. "There are some minor technical differences, and the J is better, but I still do the same thing"
"Some aspects are more automated to make it more accurate with the J, and that's definitely a plus," said Staff Sgt. Vincent Chandler, the senior loadmaster, from Savannah, Ga. "The Marines on the ground benefit most, and the pilots are able to use the aircraft's technology to pinpoint the cargo's landing zone. We got the drop within 25 meters of our intended drop point."
This drop was done with the crew wearing night vision goggles. Operating at night further assures success; the darkness providing cover from insurgents. The Marine J models also posses state of the art defensive systems that have proven themselves in the threatening Iraqi environment.
"The KC-130J has a heads-up display, the instrument lighting is night vision device compatible, and overall the new technology absolutely enhances the ability of the J", said Palmer. "But who ultimately benefits from this improved capability are the Marines on the ground. If we can get supplies to them faster, consistently, and more reliably, their lives are made easier and their ability to accomplish their missions is enhanced. With the J model we can."
This aerial delivery further demonstrated the reliability of the Marine's J model KC-130s in combat operations. Aerial refueling and traditional cargo and personnel transport have accounted for the majority of the almost 1,200 combat flight hours Marine Corps J's have flown since the squadron, whose call sign is Otis, arrived here in February. This mission is another important task they anticipate to be further assigned.
Major C. J. Moses, the operations officer of VMGR-252, said future missions will result in "a reduction in convoy operations, and this will save lives". This airdrop measured six truck- loads worth of supplies, which meant more than 12 Marines weren't required to convoy that day.
- For more information about the event reported on in this story, please contact Gunnery Sgt. Shannon Arledge by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org -