USAF's 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron (EAS) was redesignated as the 61st EAS of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing last week, utilising the new C-130J Super Hercules to replace the C-130H model that has operated out of Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait for the past two decades.
The last C-130H Hercules assigned to the 779th EAS departed Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, on November 6. The 779th EAS was comprised of the 908th Airlift Wing from Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, and the 166th Airlift Wing from Wilmington, Delaware. The 166th AW will continue C-130 operations but the 908th AW will be transitioning away from the tactical airlift community, and this was the last C-130 deployment for the unit.
US Air Force Lt Col Nicholas Redenius, 61st EAS commander, said: “The airmen of the 61st EAS spent the past four months preparing for this deployment and I know they are ready to take on the responsibility of being the primary source for Air Force Central Command’s tactical airlift in the area of responsibility. We are committed to continuing the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing’s legacy as the premier Tactical Airlift Wing while executing missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.”
The arrival of the C-130J steps up the tactical airlift capability of the 61st EAS. The C-130J includes advances in technology that reduces current support and operating costs, as well as manpower requirements. Cost savings will be provided in the future when upgrades to the J model become available.
Redenius added: “The J flies faster, requires two fewer aircrew personnel, has two more pallet positions, and comes with upgraded avionics. These improvements provide our supported forces additional flexibility and capability when requesting cargo movement.”