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Air Force General Praises C-17 From the Cockpit

National Guard Bureau

CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C., July 26, 2002 – When Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles "Chuck" Wald talks about the C-17 Globemaster III transport, he can't help talking about the other services.

"The C-17 is a great strategic asset. I compare it to an aircraft carrier. That's how important it is to the United States," said Wald, the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for Air and Space Operations. "This aircraft means a lot to the other services, particularly to the Army and Marines because of its capability of rapid mobility.

Wald made his comments July 16 after delivering the 88th production model on its maiden flight here from the Boeing assembly plant in Long Beach, Calif. The veteran pilot said he loves the new C-17s.

"This aircraft doesn't compare to anything I've ever flown," Wald said. The general has flown mostly fighters, F-16s and F-15s, during his 31 years of service. He has logged more than 3,200 flying hours, including more than 450 combat hours over Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq and Bosnia.

"I called Gen. John Handy, commander of U.S. Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command, while airborne and told him I'm switching from fighters to C-17s," Wald said. "It's an unbelievable aircraft and flies like a dream. It flew a lot like an F-15. It is hard to believe you have that much weight behind you when you are flying it.

"If you look at other countries in the world, they drool over the capability we have with this aircraft," he said. "That's the big difference between us and other countries. We can get anywhere we need rapidly, and the C-17 is one of the reasons we can do that.

"If it had not been for the C-17, we would not have gotten the Marines into Camp Rhino or the Army into Kandahar," Wald continued, referring to the Air Force's early contributions to Operation Enduring Freedom. "We closed out the Army four days early when they went into Afghanistan. You can't ask for more."

He added the crew's ability to land the plane on austere runways as short as 3,000 feet and to quickly unload oversized cargo were key advantages.

The new aircraft, dubbed a Block 13 version, contains improvements to the onboard computers, to include a warning system that maps terrain and helps pilots avoid obstacles. The new aircraft also has a new reactive wind-shear warning system on the heads-up-display and its Station Keeping Equipment are updated to allow pilots to keep track of their location relative to up to 99 other aircraft flying in formation over a 100-square-mile area.

C-17s have featured onboard extended-range tanks for 60,000 extra pounds of fuel since the Block 12 versions. "The additional tanks allow about four to five more flying hours," said Capt. Bill Hansen, 14th Airlift Squadron C-17 instructor pilot, who helped deliver the new aircraft.

Wald described the new terrain warning system as extremely helpful when flying the C-17. "The system gives you a warning a large distance out, and it gives you the right directions up or down to avoid those obstacles," he said. He noted the new system was worldwide compatible.

The Air Force has funding for 120 C-17s through 2003, and Congress recently approved procurement for 60 more.

(Based on a U.S. Transportation Command News Service story by Lt. Col. Ed Memi, 437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.)

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