TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE: Playing a game of inches, a team of Airmen and Marines worked together April 20 to test-load two Marine helicopters into a C-5C Galaxy.
With inches to spare, Airmen from the 60th Aerial Port Squadron here and Marines from the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron-303 and HMLA-367 at Camp Pendleton, Calif., were able to accomplish their goal of loading the newly modified helicopters into the C-5.
“We are trying to find the best way to load these helicopters so that later on down the road future Marines will know how to load these aircraft and not have to go through the process that we are going through now,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Jason Perry, a HLMA/T-303 crew chief with the unit. “We are also documenting and writing the publications for this process.”
The helicopters these Marines are wanting to transport are the UH-1Y Huey and the AH-1Z Super Cobra. These are the most current model of helicopters that have been around since 1972, and the Marines say they have been invaluable in carrying out their missions in the past and want to use them in their future missions.
The helicopters recently were modified to meet current mission requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, these modifications made the helicopters taller and wider. The UH-1Y is used to carry Marines and supplies to forward operating locations. The AH-1Z is used to provide overwatch and show of force for coalition troops.
“Using the C-5 will help us get our helicopters into Iraq and Afghanistan a lot quicker,” said Sergeant Perry. “We want to be able to load at least four helicopters they way they are configured now, mostly in one piece, onto a C-5.”
Since these modifications were made, the Marines have been working with Air Force representatives for three months to find the best method of transporting their helicopters to the fight.
According to John Buchanan, 60th APS cargo operations manager, they tried to use a C-17 Globemaster III first but found they had to strip too many parts off the helicopter. So the next logical step was to test the C-5 capability. So they moved forward with planning by setting up a place, a day and an aircraft, and then gathered people together and created a plan to do the load certification test.
During the process of loading the first helicopter, Airmen and Marines moved the UH-1 inch by inch into the C-5, stopping and starting many times to determine how the process was working and to make adjustments in the loading process. While they measured how much room they had to work with, they maneuvered the helicopter inside the aircraft, coming within three inches at its closest point during the loading process.
Once the helicopter was inside the aircraft, the Airmen and Marines maneuvered the helicopter into different positions and marking their spots with red tape to determine the best fit inside and how many they will ultimately be able to carry in -the C-5, Sergeant Perry said.
According to the 60th APS planners, this process will reduce the workload in transporting these helicopters to the front. In the future, the amount of time spent loading and unloading, taking apart and putting the helicopters back together and getting them ready to fly will be greatly reduced down to hours instead of days.
“The ultimate goal is to have these helicopters ready to load into the aircraft, in a timely manner where I can put them on a c-5 without having to take them a part to get them into the C-5,” Mr. Buchanan said. “In other words, if we can get them loaded they way they are then we can get them into the area of responsibility faster and into the fight and let the Marines go fight enemy now not tomorrow.”
This is a weapon system the Marines feel they don’t have enough of and to be able to put these helicopters in any place in the world is invaluable.
“This is having the customer come to Air Mobility Command to do the mission. And our mission is to get them into the AOR in hours not — days hours into the AOR and be ready to fight and that is what AMC brings to the plate,” said Mr. Buchanan. “We get you onboard, get you airborne, and get you into the AOR with your weapon system, your people and do the mission you are tasked to do that is what we do every day here.”