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U.S. Air Force launches missions to support Chile relief

  • Published
  • By Capt. Justin Brockhoff
  • 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center Public Affairs
Air Mobility Command C-17 Globemaster IIIs are supporting relief operations in Chile following the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that hit the South American nation Feb. 27, according to AMC officials.

In an announcement hours after the quake, U.S. President Barack Obama offered condolences to the Chilean people and pledged support from the United States to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts.

AMC immediately placed several of its C-17s on alert to support the relief operations and launched missions Monday bound for the quake-stricken nation, according to officials.

The first two AMC missions are being flown by crews from 62nd Airlift Wing at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., and a third is being flown by Airmen from the 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.

Mission planning and command-and-control for the AMC portion of the humanitarian effort are being led by the 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott AFB, Ill. As 18th Air Force's hub for global operations, the 618th TACC plans, schedules and directs a fleet of nearly 1,300 mobility aircraft in support of strategic airlift, air refueling, and aeromedical evacuation operations around the world.

"The aircraft are scheduled to carry approximately 80 medical personnel and 67 tons of medical equipment from Kelly Field, Texas, to Chile," said Master Sgt. Dan Phillips, the lead 618th TACC mission planner for the Chile relief efforts. "They're also carrying another 25 tons of material handling equipment, such as forklifts, that will help unload the aircraft once they arrive."

The response in Chile comes while AMC forces are still actively engaged in recovery efforts in Haiti, following the 7.0-magnitude quake that devastated the nation in mid-January.

"Our day-to-day role at the 618th TACC is to support the needs of U.S. and coalition troops around the world, but we can quickly shift to meet the needs of a humanitarian operation when global disasters strike," said Maj. Gen. Mark Solo, the 618th TACC commander. "That was the case when we kicked-off operations in Haiti and we will meet the requirements we're given to fly missions into Chile with the same dedication -- all while continuing to fly missions in support of other U.S. operations worldwide, including Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom."

In addition to the AMC C-17 missions, 12th Air Force and the 612th Air and Space Operations Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., have launched multiple C-130 Hercules missions carrying relief personnel and cargo into Chile.