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
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
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
“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