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317th AW brings tactical airlift power during BMTW

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan Hayman
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The 317th Airlift Wing supported Battalion Mass Tactical Week at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, Jan. 22-28.

BMTW is a week of training simulating a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command 24-hour response scenario. Three C-130J Super Hercules from the 317th AW alongside three C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, trained with the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as an integrated force to provide strategic and tactical airpower.

"Events in the past, such as D-Day, have led to a demonstrated need for these events giving us now the ability to respond anywhere in the world, utilizing the strategic and tactical airpower of the C-130s and C-17s," said Lt. Col. Ryan Miller, 317th Operations Group deputy commander and airlift mission commander.

Aircrews focused on meeting the Army's scatter plan during BMTW by strategically spreading where the paratrooper, heavy equipment and container delivery systems containing supplies would land for ground personnel within the drop zone.

"Joint operations are always difficult and there is a clear need for us to continuously improve," said Miller. "Being within this environment gets us out of our comfort zone within the local area where it's easy and moving to something a little more complicated where it makes us work together as an integrated force which ultimately improves ourselves."

One of the challenges with BMTW was conducting dissimilar six-ship formations. There are risks associated with flying a dissimilar six-ship formation because of aircraft performance, such as differing slow-down speeds, power settings and altitudes.

"The timing of all of this matters,” said Miller. “When you combine all the different aspects of each aircraft in a high tempo environment, things can get missed. Deconfliction between the aircraft, ensuring the safety of our personnel by communicating and learning with the Army all matters for the mission's success."

Many risks were associated with executing BMTW properly, but through disciplined planning and execution, the aircrews and soldiers who participated have come out of BMTW having built a more strongly integrated team.

"The 317th AW participation in BMTW enables continued development of an experienced and capable joint force. While airdrop is one of our oldest core competencies, this exercise allowed us to use emerging technologies to deliver our joint partners with more precision into the battlespace. The time we gain for them improves survivability and makes them even more lethal upon arrival,” said Col. Thomas Lankford, 317th AW commander.