Successful airdrop missions flown over Latvia and Poland

14 May 2014

The Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW), the operational arm of the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC), carried out its first successful operational C-17 airdrop missions as part of multinational military exercise.

The airdrop missions were carried out by the crew of SAC 02, one of SAC’s three Boeing C-17 Globemaster III long range cargo jets on 2 and 3 May. The mission consisted of parachute assisted delivery of cargo and personnel to two designated drop zones in Latvia and Poland. On 2 May, twelve Cargo Delivery System (CDS) cargo bundles were picked up from Aviano Air Base, Italy, weighing approximately 630 kilograms (1,380 lbs) each. The cargo was delivered to a drop zone set up on Ādaži training range, Latvia, approximately 20 kilometers northeast from the capital Riga.

Together with the HAW, the NATO Airlift Management (NAM) Programme Office, an integral part of the NATO Support Agency (NSPA), is responsible for delivering strategic airlift capability to the SAC participating nations, required for national operations, including those in support of NATO, UN and EU commitments. The NAM Programme Office is responsible for acquiring, managing and supporting SAC’s airlift assets; mission execution is the sole responsibility of the HAW.

The second day, SAC 02 picked up United States Army paratroopers of the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) accompanied by Polish paratroopers from Świdwin Air Base in northwestern Poland and carried out two personnel airdrop flights over the nearby Ziemsko drop zone. The airdrops, requested by the United States, one of the twelve SAC participating nations, were a part of a series of C-17 missions carried out to support the ongoing expanded training activities of SAC nations’ armed forces and NATO members in Poland and the Baltic States. Alongside with material and personnel airdrop missions, the HAW supported the exercises with several regular airlift missions in late April and early May of 2014.

The successful airdrops in Latvia and Poland marked a new milestone for the multinational SAC. SAC already demonstrated its capability to perform operational single-ship airdrop missions. Also, the airdrop training facilities near Varpalota, Hungary became available earlier this year and were made to good use. The May 2014 airdrop missions were the first ones that were carried out by the HAW as a part of multinational exercises under conditions simulating operational airdrop scenarios.