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179th Airlift Wing, Army Embark on Historic Deployment

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Holli Snyder
  • 179th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from the 179th Airlift Wing made Air National Guard history today by deploying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom for the first time with the C-27J Spartan, one of the Air Force's newest aircraft.
This joint mission is being conducted with aircrew from the 179th AW and soldiers from the Oklahoma and Georgia National Guard. They will be working in conjunction with the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Campbell, Ky. in direct support of the Army for airlift and airdrop operations.
"The 164th Airlift Squadron is the first operational unit to convert to the C-27J and it has been the hard work of the 164th Airlift Squadron, 179th Airlift Wing, National Guard Bureau, L-3 Communications and Alenia to make this deployment happen," said Lt. Col. Darren Hamilton, 164th Airlift Squadron commander.
Airmen from the 179th AW have been training for this deployment since the conversion from the C-130 Hercules to the new C-27J Spartan last year. Air Force and Army aircrew members have undergone 12 weeks of training at Warner Robins Air Force Base, Ga. and an additional 120 days of joint operations seasonal training to become fully mission qualified on the new aircraft.
The 179th AW is also making history with a nine month overseas rotation as opposed to the typical four to six month Air Force deployment schedule. Mansfield's unit deployed in 2009 with the C-130 H to lay the ground work for this joint operations deployment in direct support of the Army's time sensitive missions.
"I could not be more proud of the folks around the country and the agencies and organizations that assisted with getting these planes out the door," said Col. Gary McCue, 179th Airlift Wing commander.
Additional aircrew members are currently undergoing training to become mission qualified on the new C-27J Spartan aircraft for state, federal and overseas operations.
The C-27J Spartan is a twin turboprop aircraft with a short takeoff and landing that can provide access to airstrips otherwise unreachable by fixed-wing aircraft.
The 179th AW was the first unit in the Air Force to receive this new aircraft.