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Kandahar Air Wing's First Combat Sling Load Mission

  • Published
  • By Capt. Rob Leese
  • 438th AEW PAO
The Afghan Air Force Kandahar Air Wing conducted its first operational combat logistic support flight using the Mi-17 "Sling Load" method of delivering cargo on Nov. 9.

During the mission, more than 13,000 pounds of winter supplies, including firewood, were delivered to a remote Forward Operating Base in Zabul Province, Afghanistan.

Sling Loads are typically larger than can be loaded inside a helicopter. For example, it would have taken six sorties to internally carry the load which carried externally - a 33 percent reduction in flight time that also shortens the ground time at combat helicopter landing zones. Sling loads also improve safety margins, should the crew encounter ground fire while in-flight.

This mission was the culmination of a training regimen the Kandahar Air Wing started a week prior. NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan Advisors taught sling load tactics, flying techniques and crew resource management procedures to Afghan Air Force pilots, flight engineers and flying crew chiefs prior to their first Mi-17 sling load training sortie. Lt. Col. Todd Prejean, 441st Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron Commander, observed that sling load training motivated them to excel in other areas of flight operations as well.

This teamwork improves the Kandahar Air Wing's ability to support Afghan National Security Forces' efforts and helps provide for the year-round security of remote regions of Afghanistan.