Team McChord aircrew participate in large-scale exercise

  • Published
  • By Maj Candice Allen
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, participate in a large-scale exercise June 6. 

Sixteen Air Mobility Command C-17 Globemaster III from here, Altus Air Force Base, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and Joint Base Charleston and 19 C-130J Hercules from Little Rock AFB and Dyess AFB joined in formation to execute an U.S. Air Force Weapons School Joint Forcible Entry (JFE) training scenario at the Air Force’s Nevada Test and Training Range outside Nellis AFB.

“Over the years, this exercise has consistently been the best training opportunity for mobility aircrews to execute the delivery of supplies and troops into a contested or hostile area of operations,” said Maj Matthew Walton, a 313th Airlift Squadron pilot who participated in the exercise. “JFE provides aircrews with a realistic opportunity to see how all branches of the US military work together to degrade and defeat a potential adversary’s Integrated Air Defense System to insert a ground force to accomplish national objectives.”

“More specifically, JFE provides 446th aircrews with the opportunity to participate in and learn from a large-scale air and ground war to prepare for any mission set for which our wings may someday be called to execute.”

During the exercise, AMC conducted its first-ever commercial beyond line of sight (BLOS) communication and tactical data link to update the mixed formation. The 62nd Operations Support Squadron and 437th Airlift Wing from JB Charleston, in conjunction with AMC, conducted the tactical data link experiment by testing an updated Dynamic Re-tasking Capability (DRC) system.

One C-17 Globemaster III from the 62nd AW and one from the 437th AW were equipped with the DRC system enabling significantly faster satellite connection speeds, which is how the system communicates and displays real-time information to pilots. This allows pilots to see more than what would be available using traditional line of sight communication and historical mobility tactical datalink systems.

“Right now, the C-17 offers very limited imagery of the battle air space pilots enter,” said Maj. Tyler Boyd, 62nd OSS director of wing tactics. “DRC gives them a live picture and connection to what’s going on so they can see where everybody else is, including threats and friendlies, and have better situational awareness overall.”

The DRC gave the two C-17s more information and situational awareness than the other non-DRC equipped aircraft would have, and theoretically would be able to share that information with them in a combat environment.

The value was also in the aircrew feedback and debrief following the exercise.

“By participating in the debrief process for JFE, our crews are able to watch the scenario played back visually and see it analyzed for successes and failures. We have the opportunity to digest major lessons learned by the overall air package, which in turn educates how we train and prepare our crews for future conflicts,” Walton said. “Typically Reserve aircrews have a greater level of previous experience than a given active-duty crew, but opportunities like JFE provide recency and current day context for the latest tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) that Reserve crews may not be exposed to as frequently as active-duty crews.”

“In short, the JFE exercise is an opportunity to push our [Air Force Reserve] crews to accomplish one of our most difficult mission sets, and it is important to allow the lessons that we learn to help us prepare for whatever we may face in the future.”

The exercise is the capstone event for mobility students who are just days away from becoming weapons officers and graduates of the weapons school. It was also the first one organized remotely by classes in weapons squadrons across the United States. AMC took the opportunity to test the updated DRC system for the C-17s, which is similar to the systems historically used on fighter aircraft.

(Information was taken from 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs and Air Mobility Command news articles.)