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Milestone Marked for the 145th Airlift Wing

  • Published
  • By by Tech. Sgt. Nathan Clark
  • 145th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Every major milestone begins with a first step, for the 145th Airlift Wing, 2018 and the arrival of the C-17 aircraft has prompted quite a number of them. The most recent step includes the units participation in this year’s Joint Forcible Entry Exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Dec. 8, 2018.

The Joint Forcible Entry Exercise is an annual large-scale airdrop and land mobility mission that simulates a contested battlefield scenario as a way of training units for the dangerous airdrop situations that can occur while deployed. The massive aerial formation consists of more than 99 aircraft, including C-130 Hercules, C-130 J’s, and C-17 Globemasters, from all over the country. The planes meet up in the air at different points, dropping scores of paratroopers and military combat equipment over a drop zone near Nellis. 

“The Joint Forcible Entry is one of the most important capabilities the United States has within its armed forces,” said Lt. Col. Jeremy Reich, the director of operations for the 156th Airlift Squadron of the 145th Airlift Wing. “It’s also one of the most difficult and complicated, [as it] consists of large multi-element formations and airdrop operations, command and control integration, blue force integration, complex threat mitigation, and semi-prepared dirt runway operations.” 

Participating in the Joint Forcible Entry (JFE) Exercise is particularly special for the 145th Airlift Wing, not just because it was the first time they participated in an airdrop formation flight, but specifically because their North Carolina based C-17 Globemaster III was one of only two Air National Guard tails in the formation. 

“The Charlotte airdrop aircraft was number 13 out of 16 and was the 2nd aircraft in the formation to simulate static line personnel, simulating the airdrop of 100 paratroopers,” Reich said. 

At the moment, the 145th Airlift Wing is working towards becoming one of only three air drop capable C-17 Globemaster III unit within the entire Air National Guard. This process requires a myriad of analysis and testing to become reality, making this proof of concept with Joint Forcible Entry (JFE) Exercises invaluable to leaders of the 145th Airlift Wing.

For Reich, the historical significance pales in comparison to the value of cultivating the skills of himself and his team. 

“As a crew we had the opportunity to train with over 100 aircraft and 100 thousand dollars worth of actual and simulated threats. We seldom get the chance to participate in exercises with this many aircraft, so to get that exposure is quite valuable for our aircrew,” said Reich.

The 145th Airlift Wing began building its eight tail C-17 fleet nine months ago, currently hosting four while the remainder are on loan awaiting the expansion of the flightline over the coming years. So while conversion is naturally a long and slow process, it hasn’t stopped the unit from working towards their vision of being a world class organization preeminent in all they do.