October 19, 2022 (by A1C Rachel Perkinson) - The 71st Rescue Squadron and 71st Rescue Generation Squadron received a brand-new HC-130J Combat King II (#19-5948) at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, on September 8, 2022.
USAF HC-130J Combat King II #19-5948, assigned to the 71st RQS, taxis on a runway at Moody AFB on September. 8, 2022. This HC-130J is a new addition to the 71st RGS and 71st Rescue Squadron and was the last aircraft of its kind to be manufactured. [USAF photo by A1C Rachel Coates]
After a small ceremony and a tour of the Lockheed Martin Facility at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, a crew of 10 flew the aircraft back to Moody to add another valuable asset to the combat search and rescue mission.
"The benefit (of having this additional aircraft) is it provides us with extra capacity to train our aircrew while we have our primary mission-assigned aircraft deployed or performing an exercise tasking for deployment preparation," said Lt. Col. Justin Daleiden, 71st RQS commander.
This new addition brings Moody's HC-130J fleet to 10, allowing the squadrons to maintain at least one aircraft at home station to accomplish their daily Mission Essential Task Lists.
"We go out every night to ensure we are getting our training completed," Daleiden said. "We combine METLs together to make different sorties so we maintain a general proficiency of all that we're expected to do when we deploy, as well as keeping the Airmen and aircraft current on all qualifications."
The HC-130J model is the only dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform in the Air Force inventory and employs nine METLs; airdrop, airland, helicopter refueling, receiver aerial refueling, low-level ingress and egress, infiltration and exfiltration of personnel and CSAR-C, the command-and-control role.
The combinations of sorties are numerous and involve the integration of Airmen and aircraft assigned to the 347th Rescue Group and 23rd Maintenance Group.
"We keep the (HC-130s) reliable to fly and mission-capable for the (71st RQS,)" said Master Sgt. Ramiro Gonzalez, 71st RGS lead production superintendent. "Having the new aircraft is giving us the flexibility to keep aircraft ready to go when tasked."
The saving of lives is paramount and every Rescue Airman plays an important role in the CSAR mission.
"The mission is important because we're going out there to save people's lives," Gonzalez said. "As maintenance, we are there to provide the overwatch and support for people and aircraft in need. With this new aircraft, we will be able to keep some down a little longer to complete the delayed discrepancies and maintenance needed to provide CSAR anywhere, anytime."