First JPADS airdrop over Iraq a success
by Staff Sgt. Carlos Diaz
U.S. Central Command Air Forces
2/19/2007 - BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFNEWS) -- Eight aircrew members from the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing's 777th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron used the joint precision airdrop system for the first time over Iraq Feb. 16 to deliver six 1,200-pound bundles.
The Air Force developed the software and the Army developed the steerable chutes. The JPADS includes a wind sonde sensor, which is a 12- to 15-inch tube-shaped, beige-colored device that weighs no more than three pounds.
The new JPADS has two components, according to Lt. Col. David Kuenzli, the 777th EAS commander.
The Air Force-developed software uses an advanced weather model to compute a very accurate release point in the air. The Army's chutes are steered by a global positioning system. When both components are combined, the airdrop can be delivered from high altitudes of up to 25,000 feet.
"This gives us the ability to have the same or better accuracy on the drop zone," Colonel Kuenzli said.
The colonel and his aircrew were ready to employ the JPADS.
"We want to be able to show that we have this capability, and we're going out to demonstrate that we can do this and keep the Army re-supplied," he said.
They were going to re-supply the ground troops with water and Meals, Ready to Eat.
The aircrew charged with this responsibility was deployed from the 463rd Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. They are assigned to the 50th and 61st Airlift squadrons.
The eight-man crew consisted of Maj. Matthew Lewis, aircraft commander; Capt. Matthew Reece, pilot; 1st Lt. Matthew MacFarlane, co-pilot observer; Capt. Eric Fancher primary navigator; Capt. Kenny Bierman, instructor navigator; Tech. Sgt. Darrel Jackson, flight engineer; Tech. Sgt. Oliver Osborne, primary loadmaster; and Staff Sgt. Daniel Maslowski, secondary loadmaster.
After a highly-detailed intelligence briefing, the loadmasters departed to perform their mission preparation.
After their mission prep was complete, three aerial port members from the 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron loaded the bundles into the aircraft.
Once inside, a team of Army riggers began to secure and tighten the bundles with an incredible attention to detail.
"With this new system, we're using the technology in today's Army to keep everyone safe," said Warrant Officer David Bird, airdrop system technician assigned to the 368th Cargo Transportation Company.
Warrant Officer Bird detailed some of the advantages of the new JPADS.
"The recovery time is faster, the loads are easier to download, the airdrop is faster because of the high velocity of 70 to 90 feet per second, and it's low-cost, fast and safe."
The 13-year Soldier said his team's been practicing its entire career.
"We're a close-knit family," he said about his eight-member rigger crew. "To see something like this go through is worth it for us."
Once the joint airdrop inspector Senior Airman Andrew Strazzinski inspected the load for safety and correct rigging procedures, the C-130 was ready for takeoff.
The bundles were airdropped once the aircraft was positioned at a 7-degree-high nose drop angle. Using simple gravity, the bundles slid off and the huge parachutes immediately deployed.
"My job, as the primary loadmaster, was to make sure the load goes out as advertised," said Sergeant Osborne, who is a formal training unit instructor in the 714th Training Squadron at Little Rock AFB.
As a career field instructor, he stressed the importance of communication.
"We had an open line of communication," he emphasized. "Communication was the key because we listened to each other, backed each other up and kept two eyes on everything."
His young counterpart, 27-year-old Sergeant Maslowski, was anxious to complete his first combat airdrop using the new JPADS.
"My adrenaline was pumping the entire time," the redheaded loadmaster said. "It was exciting because I constantly kept doing more than one thing to stay ahead of the game.
"This for me has peaked all other deployments; I experienced first hand what we train for," he continued.
"Supporting the ground troops who really need these supplies is what it's all about," said Sergeant Osborne, an 18-year Air Force member.
Colonel Kuenzli was satisfied with the team's effort to successfully accomplish the airdrop mission.
"The entire teamwork from our maintenance team got this aircraft prepped and ready, and the aircrew members prepared for several weeks and studied hard to know and understand each other's jobs and roles," he said.
Once the aircrew returned with an empty cargo compartment, it was obvious that the mission was a success.
Sergeant Maslowski could not wipe the ear-to-ear grin off of his freckled face.
"This was so awesome, and I was ingrained in the moment," he said.
After a celebratory pose holding the American flag, the aircrew had a debrief session about the first combat airdrop over Iraq using the JPADS.
"We've paved the way for everyone else," Sergeant Osborne proudly exclaimed.
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