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317th AG makes history with 21-ship formation

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kedesha Pennant
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The 317th Airlift Group and several other C-130 units launched 21 aircraft in support of a Joint Forcible Entry Exercise (JFE) June 21, 2014, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

The 21-ship formation, of both the C-130H Legacy and C-130J Super Hercules models from eight Air Force installations, traveled to Nellis AFB, Nev., in support of the JFE.

The U.S. Air Force Weapons School Class 14-A joined forces with the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division to accomplish the largest Air Force-led rehearsal of the Global Response Force (GRF) employment of a JFE. A JFE enables both the Air Force and the Army to improve their airborne insertion tactics, techniques and procedures.

"During this exercise, the goal is to integrate assets to improve tactics, techniques and procedures for airborne operations against advanced adversaries in an access-denied environment, while operating on a global scale," said Capt. Alexander Johns, 317th AG mobility flight commander.

The JFE wouldn't be possible without the assistance of other units here including the 317th maintainers.

"We see the JFE as how fast and efficient we can get our aircraft ready to go to war," said Master Sgt. James Williams, 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron lead pro supervisor. "Essentially, we try to provide the best aircraft we can for any mission."

When a task is sent to the 317th AMXS, they begin a process of generating aircraft for the job. They start by performing inventory to see which C-130Js are functional. Then, basic pre-flights, aircraft configurations and fuel servicing are conducted.

"The JFE is exactly what the C-130 was designed for," Williams said. "Our aircraft are generated, sent off-station to transport the 18th Airborne Corps and insert them into an airfield. This is exactly what we do."

The 317th maintenance section took six weeks to prepare for the exercise. More than 500 manning hours and 200 maintainers generated 12 aircraft in preparation for the large-scale launch.

"We worked on aircraft from other units and assisted with the C-130H models," said Capt. Benjamin Derry, 317th AMXS operations officer. "We brought all the aircraft on the flight line and serviced them, acting as production for the C-130s."

The 317th AMXS accomplished their own generation exercise utilized to test the capabilities and efficiency of the aircraft from start to finish. The outcome was seamless.

"We wanted to exercise how this would come about in a real-life scenario," Derry said. "My guys did an awesome job, and the results were flawless. Every aircraft went up and we attained 100 percent on quality assurance with no write-ups. It's the quality and drive of our maintainers that made this feat exceptional."

This day was proven to be historical for the 317th, Derry said. It wouldn't have been possible without the close relationship between the maintenance and operations sections here. Respect goes both ways between the maintainers and pilots, and with that there's no limit to where our unit can thrive.

"Dyess has the best C-130 maintainers in the Air Force," Williams said. "We've shown it in every tasking and exceeded anyone's expectations. I don't think there's another unit who can come close to doing what we do."