October 6, 2015 (by TSgt. Kristine Dreyer) - Two aircraft from the 353rd Special Operations Group completed a Maritime Craft Aerial Delivery System airdrop during an exercise Sept. 18 over the Pacific Ocean.
USAF MC-130J and MC-130H aircraft drop watercraft and supplies during an exercise on September 19, 2015, over the Pacific Ocean. This was the first time an MC-130J Commando II completed the Maritime Craft Aerial Delivery System airdrop in the Pacific. [USAF photo by A1C Alexa Ann Henderson]
An MC-130H Combat Talon II and an MC-130J Commando II completed the MCADS drop in a dissimilar formation. This was the first time an MC-130J had completed this drop in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
"This was a great opportunity to showcase the 1st Special Operations Squadron and the 17th SOS coming together to complete the SOG mission," said Capt. Timothy Stutz, 1st SOS's operations planner for the exercise. "Since this involved two different aircraft in one formation, there were no written procedures on how to execute. This took months of coordination and planning and involved many players, not just the 353rd SOG."
As the Air Force special operations unit in the Pacific, the 353rd SOG is the only unit in the Pacific able to complete this airdrop. Until now, the Talon II was the lone aircraft to provide this capability.
"The Commando IIs are the future of special operations aviation in the Pacific," said Capt. Lawrence Melnicoff, 1st SOS pilot and formation commander during the drop. "It's important for us to pass on the job knowledge we have to make sure the mission continues to be executed to the Talon standard."
This exercise allowed crews from the 1st SOS to pass on their skills to the 17th SOS and add another capability to the newest SOG aircraft, the MC-130J.
"As the only geographic location with two variants of the MC-130, it is essential that both units learn from each other and train together; this mission is the perfect example," said Lt. Col. Matthew Bartlett, 17th SOS director of operations. "The interoperability exemplified in this exercise enables the 353rd to meet our mission taskings as a group, not as individual squadrons or aircraft types."
As true professionals, the crews practiced the mission multiple times prior to the execution. From empty plane practices to loading practice, the crews went through every possible issue that could arise, and it paid off.
"Weather became a factor during the drop," said Stutz. "The sea states were too bad for the boats to drop, but because we practiced for this possibility to occur, we were able to wait it out. Because of the information learned the day prior, the crews knew how long they could wait for the weather to pass."
"I am extremely proud of the integration and teamwork between the Talon II and Commando II crews to make this mission happen," said Col. William Freeman, 353rd Special Operations Group commander. "Our ability to execute this mission on either MC-130 aircraft exponentially expands the maritime intercept capabilities throughout the Pacific theater."