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NZ Air Force put to the test by US Air Force

1-509th Airbourne Infantry paratroopers ready to jump from a No. 40 Squadron C130 Hercules. Photo courtesy of US Air Force

1-509th Airbourne Infantry paratroopers ready to jump from a No. 40 Squadron C130 Hercules. Photo courtesy of US Air Force

The US Air Force is putting a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) crew through their paces as part of Exercise Green Flag East in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. A No. 40 Squadron detachment of one C130 Hercules aircraft and approximately 45 aircrew and ground support personnel have deployed to the US and will conduct 24 hour flying operations in a medium threat environment.

Exercise Green Flag East supports the Joint Readiness Training Centre (JRTC), based in Fort Polk Louisiana which conducts preparedness training for US Army Units on a rotational basis. The 34th Combat Training Squadron provides tactical air transport for JRTC rotation from Little Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB). No. 40 Squadron detachment will fly support missions along with three additional C130 aircraft from the 317th Airlift Group based in Dyess Air Force Base in Texas.

Wing Commander Rob Shearer is in charge of the detachment. "Exercise Green Flag is very valuable in terms of preparing both our aircrew and our ground support crews for deployment into operational theatres. No.40 Squadron is here to conduct tactical air transport operations.

“They will be given a number of real-time missions to fly in a simulated threat environment where they can be shot at on the ground or in the air. They will be pushed to the limits with the aim of identifying any weaknesses in tactics or how they operate with coalition forces who in this case are the Americans. We can't replicate this type to training anywhere in NZ."

Over the period 14 - 24 August, No. 40 Squadron will conduct a number of tasks including air drops, paratrooper jumps and airlift tasks which will prepare them for operations. Along with No. 40 Squadron there are elements of Parachute Training Support Unit, No. 230 Squadron RNZAF in addition to members of 5 Movements Company, NZ Army. "It really is a whole capability we have deployed here to the US," said Wing Commander Shearer. 

The NZ Defence Force (NZDF) detachment is hosted by the 34th CTS. The Exercise Director is Lieutenant Colonel Derek Waterman. "It’s great to have the Kiwis here! It’s a partnership with a lot of growth and a lot of learning. We are looking forward to the opportunity to integrate with No.40 Squadron and learn from each other to solve problems. It’s early in the exercise but its going exactly as we expected."


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