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C-5M pushes into new territory with night-vision goggles

Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing participate May 6, 2018, in the Cerberus Strike exercise at Amedee Army Airfield, Calif. One component of Cerberus Strike included a C-5M Super Galaxy flown by a crew from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., and Dover Air Force Base, Del., using night-vision goggles. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Hicks)

Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing participate May 6, 2018, in the Cerberus Strike exercise at Amedee Army Airfield, Calif. One component of Cerberus Strike included a C-5M Super Galaxy flown by a crew from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., and Dover Air Force Base, Del., using night-vision goggles. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Hicks)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — The C-5M Super Galaxy took a step forward with its night-vision goggle capabilities during last month’s Cerberus Strike exercise.

 

An aircraft from Travis Air Force Base, California, made one low approach and two touch-and-gos just after midnight May 4 at Amedee Army Airfield, California, using the NVG’s.

 

The C-5 flight was the first ever C-5M landing at an austere expeditionary airfield operated by contingency response forces. Airmen from Travis’ 22nd Airlift Squadron and 60th Operations Support Squadron as well as members of the 9th AS from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, teamed up for the flight with help on the ground from members of the 821st Contingency Response Group.

 

The test was one component of the larger exercise, which took place during a two-week period.

 

The flight paved the way for a greater use of the NVG’s for C-5M crews. Although previous models of the C-5 jet used them, the C-5M has had limited experience using them to date.

 

“It’s kind of a small step, but it could be a big step,” said Maj. Kevin Simonds, 60th OSS chief of wing C-5 tactics.

 

The exercise was done to prove the practical application of Travis’ flight capabilities in austere environments, said Simonds.

 

The 621st Contingency Response Wing specializes in dispatching teams of Airmen to open airfields in austere locations around the globe. Tech. Sgt. Will Harden, 821st CRG NCO in charge of operations, weapons and tactics, said CRW Airmen carry different lighting packages to these locations. The runway at Amedee was lit to simulate conditions a C-5 might face in deployed environments.

 

Harden said the flight fit into the goals of the exercise, a scenario with changing variables that prepare Airmen for the kinds of unexpected challenges that could arise out in the field.

 

“The CRG is ‘cowboy ops,’” he said. “We do our best here to make it very real. The scenario is always evolving.”

 

Simonds and Harden said the flight was significant for what it portends for the future of the airframe’s capability.

 

Simonds pointed to the Air Force bringing relief to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017, saying that several factors limited the C-5M’s participation to daytime operations, including the unproven variable of NVGs.

 

“If the CRW has enough lights in Puerto Rico or wherever and we have NVG capability, we can land there regardless of time of day,” said Simonds.

 

Harden agreed that establishing that capability is essential.

 

“It’s very important, in my opinion, that we get the C-5 to that level,” he said. “It’s unfathomable the additional resources that C-5s can bring in.”

 

Harden noted that C-5s offer a higher number of pallet positions than other aircraft in the United States’ mobility fleet, meaning that boosting its potential could improve mobility.

 

Simonds said the next step for use of the goggles on C-5Ms is to push the data and proof of concept to Air Mobility Command. If approved, the program could develop within the next year for active duty C-5 aircrews to begin NVG training.

 

 

The flight took place during Cerberus Strike, a contingency response-centric joint mobility exercise that took place during an 11-day timeframe. The exercise provided contingency response forces the opportunity to rehearse potential real-world situations in a joint environment by training in aerial port procedures, aircraft engine running off-loads, and cargo uploading and downloading.

 

Staff Sgt. Robert Hicks contributed to this report.