The Non-Standard Aviation (NSAV) program supports worldwide SOF missions and must have flexible capabilities to facilitate Theater Special Operations Command tactical and strategic objectives by providing Short Take-Off and Landing, flexible, rapid, responsive operational support, situational awareness and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), casualty evacuation and humanitarian assistance.
Funding provides for the modification and equipment for SOF NSAV and Aviation Foreign Internal Defense (AvFID) aircraft, and low cost modifications for fielded NSAV platforms. This line item had two new starts for 2015: NSAV Medium platforms and NSAV Low Cost Modifications. The FY 2015 request procures three C-146 aircraft, low cost modifications and various AvFID modifications.
The C-146 is a slightly larger, 'big brother' to the C-145A that occupied the 919th Special Operations Wing flightline at Duke Field. The Wolfhound travels longer distances and lands on longer surfaces. It is faster and has a much higher take-off weight capacity.
The 5th SOS flight is a first of many involving the Wolfhound and the 919th SOW. The aircraft will be a new addition to Duke Field in 2015, according to Col. Jim Phillips, the 919th SOW commander. The 49th Special Operations Squadron, a reserve operational nonstandard aviation squadron was scheduled to stand up with concentration exclusively on the C-146.
In the meantime, to help alleviate cost and travel expenses, the 5th SOS procured a C-145/C-146 simulator, located at Duke, so some of the essential basic instruction can be accomplished outside of the aircraft. Currently all of the C-146 flight training is done at Cannon.
The 5th Special Operations Squadron added yet another airframe to its list of Air Force Special Operations Command aircraft they use to train aircrews. The squadron began C-146A Wolfhound formal training unit flights in December 2014 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. So far, the squadron has trained six pilots and four loadmasters.
"The C-146 mission represents a new capacity for the reserve to continue our total force initiative association with AFSOC active duty missions," said Maj. Austin White, the 5th SOS Det. 1 commander.
One of the 5th SOS reservists who instructed the flight was Maj. Matthew Torney. Torney is an instructor pilot and new reservist who flew F-16s, U-28s and the C-146 on active-duty less than a year ago. He carries a flight skill code that allows him to operate as a mission commander during flights and help the C-146 formal training unit handle an increased student load yet still graduating students ahead of schedule.
The C-146A Wolfhound’s primary mission is to provide U.S. Special Operations Command flexible, responsive and operational movement of small teams needed in support of Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOC). Airlift missions are conducted by Air Force Special Operations Command aircrews to prepared and semi-prepared airfields around the world.
The C-146A is a twin-engine, high-wing aircraft equipped with a configurable cabin capable of various passenger and cargo combinations, as well as casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) missions. The aircraft can carry a maximum of 27 passengers or 6,000 pounds of cargo, or up to four litter patients.
The C-146A is the military version of the Dornier 328 turboprop commuter airliner modified to permit cargo and CASEVAC missions. The aircraft has been continuously deployed since October 2011. It currently supports overseas contingency operations across four geographic combatant commands.
On January 11, 2017 the company 328 Support Services GmbH (328) delivered the 20th modified Dornier 328 Turboprop to Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) as part of SNC’s contract with the U. S. military. The Dornier 328 Turboprop was selected for the contract, which began in 2009, due to its extraordinary flight qualities and ability to provide unique logistical support.
Of the 20 completed aircraft, 17 were purchased outright from various sources by 328, while SNC acquired three of the aircraft. All modifications were completed at 328’s Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, facilities. The U.S. military deploys aircraft around the world to assist in transportation and humanitarian services.
“The Dornier 328 is perfectly suited for such a special role," said Dave Jackson, managing director of the 328 Group. “Our close relationship with SNC allows us to deliver aircraft that are out-performing expectations and with increased capabilities to successfully fulfil any type of mission or operation requested."
All 20 Dornier 328 aircraft meet highly specific configurations and requirements. The 328 team spent many extra hours ensuring adherence to the contract’s strict demands as each aircraft underwent six months of modifications including engine maintenance, propeller overhauls and special checks to achieve the required program specification. Auxiliary power unit retrofits and ground spoilers were also realized and accomplished on seven of the fleet’s aircraft. Other modifications included the fitting of gravel kits, avionics upgrades, and high-frequency communications systems, as well as flight deck standardization.
“This has been a real challenge and a real opportunity for our workforce to demonstrate the skills required to deliver these aircraft successfully on time and within budget," added Jackson.
The 20th aircraft acquired for overhaul was transported to the 328 facility by sea in specially constructed containers after being parked in the desert since 2005. It was rebuilt from scratch by the 328 team and its maiden flight occurred November 23, 2016, more than 11 years after its last flight.
Five days later, the aircraft departed Munich, travelling by ferry flight across the northern route via Wick, Reykjavík, Goose Bay and Thunder Bay, crossing 9,000 Km until finally reaching SNC’s facility in Denver.
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list