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Afghan Airmen deliver first operational airdrop

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Veronica Pierce
  • 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan Airmen conducted their first operational aerial resupply to Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) ground troops here, June 28.

The crew delivered four bundles of supplies totaling 800 pounds from an Afghan air forces Cessna 208 to the Afghan Border Police at one of their forward operating bases.

As the AAF continues to grow and evolve, they have sought new ways to expand their capabilities in supporting ANDSF forces enabling the ground troops to secure key territories. 
The last C-208 was delivered to the AAF in December 2012. Since then, Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air, 538th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron C-208 aircrew advisors have worked with AAF aircrew practicing and perfecting the skills to conduct an operational aerial resupply mission. 
While the AAF C-208 pilots were fully qualified on the airframe, training continued throughout current operations so they could become qualified on aerial resupply missions.

“The pilots we qualified on aerial resupply were already instructor pilots in the C-208, so they were very experienced crew members,” said Maj. Randy Stubbs, 538th AEAS C-208 chief of operations. “To qualify on airdrops took about two weeks of constant flying, when a normal pace may take about three to four weeks.”

Currently AAF C-208 crews are trained to airdrop supplies to a 50 meter accuracy from a low altitude. One mission can drop up to four resupply bundles total, one bundle per pass over the drop zone.

For their first operational airdrop the crew was able to land the supplies within 20 meters of their intended target, The C-208 advisors called the Afghan mission a success as it surpassed the accuracy goal set in training by about 30 meters.

However, the landing of the airdrop wasn’t the only success story. The process for the entire mission from planning to execution was an accomplishment for the Afghan government.

“It was a test of the Afghan process, all the way from [the Afghan] Ministry of Defense (MOD), down to the execution of the qualified aircrew,” Stubbs said. “The process starts with the request from Afghan National Army Corps, then MOD decides what to do with it and tasks the squadron for the airdrop. Then the aircrews execute the airdrop. It was a test of the system, along with the training of the aircrew.”

TAAC-Air advisors assisted with coordinating the first operational airdrop through the MoD Air Command and Control Center.

“The Afghan squadron had to sell this to MoD ACCC, and not the U.S. advisors,” Stubbs said. “The key is to get the Afghan users to interface with their chain of command.”

TAAC-Air advisors work closely with their AAF counterparts, but it is the Afghans in the AAF who coordinate and execute the mission through existing Afghan processes and systems. TAAC-Air leverages train, advise, and assist activities, in concert with strong personal relationships, to create professional Afghan Airmen capable of planning, leading, employing, and sustaining decisive airpower operations.

When working closely with AAF counterparts, many advisors such as those involved with airdrop operations, develop a bond and share the excitement when reaching milestones. Tech. Sgt. Brian Wahl, C-208 loadmaster advisor, described the sentiment of being part of the first AAF operational airdrop.

“The Afghan Airdrop Operators and Pilots are motivated and ready to continue airdrop operations supporting ground forces all around the country,” said Wahl. “The demonstration of the airdrop capability shows the C-208 is the right airframe for the needs of a growing air force and nation.”

“The excitement and professionalism demonstrated by the Afghan aircrew during the airdrop operation is something I will always remember,” Wahl said.