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Bagram ‘First’ Means New Capability for Region

By Capt. Michael Meridith, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Sept. 28, 2007 – The recent speedy landing and launch of one of the world’s largest aircraft promises to bring “tremendous” capability for the movement of critical cargo across the region, according to 455th Air Expeditionary Wing officials here.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
A C-5 Galaxy, the Air Force's largest airlift platform, landed at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, without interruption to flight operations for the first time Sept. 21, 2007. Photo by Master Sgt. Jamie Cabral, USAF

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

An Air Force C-5 Galaxy transport landed here Sept. 22 without interrupting wing flying operations, a first for Bagram, according to Col. Jon Sutterfield, commander of the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Group. Previous C-5 landings have required the movement of other aircraft on the flightline to accommodate the massive plane.

The C-5 is the largest airlifter in the Air Force inventory and has the ability to carry 36 pallets of cargo. In comparison, the wing’s own C-130 Hercules aircraft can carry only six to eight pallets of cargo, depending on configuration. In addition, the C-5 has the benefit of nearly unlimited range through aerial refueling.

“One of the big advantages of bringing the C-5 here is bypassing the main (U.S. Central Command area of responsibility) hubs to get cargo to the warfighter faster,” Sutterfield said. “It’s a huge force multiplier.”

Sutterfield also noted that the landing was the culmination of months of effort involving teamwork among personnel in the Combined Air and Space Operations Center in the AOR, the Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., and members of a host of organizations at Bagram, including maintenance, security forces, transient alert and airfield management.

“It was a true team effort with a great result,” agreed Master Sgt. Jamie Cabral, transient alert quality assurance evaluator, who noted it took less than three hours for the aircraft to land, offload nearly 16,000 pounds of cargo and take off again.

According to Belinda Williams, airfield manager, the completion of runway upgrades in December helped make the milestone landing and launch possible and opened the door for possible future visits. “We’re definitely ready to see more C-5 landings in the future,” she said. “Everything went smoothly.”

“The bottom line is that bringing the C-5 here enables us to bring in more cargo, tools and personnel, enabling the 455th to continue to take the fight to the enemy,” Cabral said.

(Air Force Capt. Michael Meridith is assigned to 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.)

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