“This is the first time a single squadron has put 10 C-130J Super Hercules aircraft into the air at once,” said Lt. Col. Driscoll, 37th Airlift Squadron chief pilot and mission commander.
Ten C-130J Super Hercules and a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft took off from Ramstein destined for Aviano Air Base, Italy, as part of Exercise Bayonet Resolve Wednesday.
Bayonet Resolve combined forces from several of Ramstein’s units and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team from Vicenza Army Base, Italy, to exercise the interoperability, war readiness and combat delivery capability of the Air Force and Army.
Initially brainstormed six months ago, Bayonet Resolve grew into a full “launching the fleet” exercise.
Each C-130, marked with chalk numbers, took-off from Ramstein’s flightline in the early morning hours and headed to Vicenza Army Base, where nearly 800 Army, 12 Air Force JTAC and 130 Polish air force jumpers awaited to load the planes according to chalk number.
“(Bayonet Resolve) is just a prime example of our Air Force and its capabilities,” Driscoll said. “We are building partnership capacities with Poland as they jump with us and also strengthening the bond between us and the Army.”
After each plane, loaded with 70 paratroopers, flew more than 600 kilometers, they arrived at the drop zone over Hohenfels Army Airfield.
“It’s interesting to watch because we Air Force and the Army speak a different language, yet we do the same job,” said Capt. Donovan Laskey, 37th AS pilot. “Bayonet Resolve is helping us build a stronger force for war readiness.”
In addition to strengthening the joint relationship between the Air Force and Army, the exercise helped bolster international partnerships as well.
“This training is also very important because it involves many European partners, including Poland and Slovenia,” said Army Maj. Timothy Chavis, 173rd ABCT public affairs officer. “(Overall), a full spectrum environment consists of offense, defense and stability operations.”
In a real-world situation, something like this could take up to two weeks to prepare for, Driscoll said.
“With all of the units involved, you can see how much work goes into getting the birds into the air,” the commander said. “The planning that made this exercise possible was extensive. We are using more than 75 percent of our fleet, not to mention all the work that goes in from everyone involved. Just some examples of those involved are airfield management, services to support flight kitchen and maintenance.”
Although joint operations are not unique to pilots from the 37th AS, the last mission that tested the unit to this level happened during Operation Enduring Freedom.
“This exercise is just an example of what our mission statement is all
about,” Driscoll said. “This is, by far, the most realistic exercise we could complete compared to a real-world situation.”