British Air Force assists Ramstein mission

When the primary deployment location for the 37th Airlift Squadron night-vision goggle training fell through recently, allies at Royal Air Force Lyneham, United Kingdom, stepped up to accommodate the needs of the hard-charging “Herk” drivers.
In an unprecedented show of hospitality and airlift camaraderie, the RAF offered its own C-130 facilities, airspace and ground support to the 37th AS with just 11 days notice.
The 86th Contingency Response Group deployed with the 37th AS to train both CRG personnel and aircrew members on NVG engine-running on-load and off-load operations, a key facet of the C-130 mission in austere and combat environments.
The aircrew had the added experience of having RAF aircrew on their aircraft for an uncommon cross-talk experience, learning how the Brits fly their Herks in a tactical environment.
The cross-talk culminated in an eight-ship inter-fly consisting of three U.S. Air Force C-130Es, two Royal Air Force, C-130Ks and three Royal Air Force C-130Js aircraft. The flight included a high-altitude crossing to the North Sea followed by a low-level route flown between 300 and 500 feet above ground level, transiting through the U.K. to a drop zone on an abandoned airfield.
“This is quite possibly the first inter-fly in the world consisting of these three models of the C-130, from the venerable E-model to the brand new J-model,” said Maj. Paul Howard, 37th AS, mission commander for the . The success of this inter-fly typifies the strength and cooperation of the U.S./U.K. relationship. It doesn’t get much better than this.”
RAF Lyneham is a modern facility situated an hours’ train ride outside London and home to the RAF’s Hercules operations.
“A training deployment like this requires considerable host-nation interfacing and coordination and usually takes up to at least six weeks time to finalize,” said Capt. Jeff Menasco, 37th AS, deployed commander. “So, being able to turn on something this big in such a short amount of time is an outstanding testament to the strength of our relationship with the RAF and the British people. Without their cooperation, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Even with the support of the RAF, the Ramstein team still faced the challenge of moving four aircraft, a 100 members and associated support equipment from five different squadrons to an unfamiliar location.
To accomplish this task, the 37th AS teamed up with the 86th Air Maintenance Squadron, responsible for keeping Ramstein’s 40-plus year old C-130E fleet in the air. Despite the age of the fleet and the difficulty of maintaining aircraft away from home station, the 86th AMXS accomplished an incredible sortie rate; 76 of 77 planned sorties flew in the first two weeks with 95 percent of planned training completed.
“This is the equivalent of winning the Tour de France seven times in a row, it’s the best mission capable rate I’ve ever seen” said Captain Menasco. “Our maintenance team worked 12-hour shifts six days a week making the impossible a reality.”