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DoD to open second Haitian airport (MTJA Jacmel)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jason Douville (middle) from the 1st SOSS out of Hurlbert Field, FL., and Combat Controllers fly back to the Port Au Prince airport after conducting runway and hospital assessments in Jacmel, Haiti on January 17, 2010. Jacmel is located on the other side of Haiti with a city population of 50,000. Their Hospital was destroyed by the earthquake and are treating patients outside the hospital. About 350 people have lost their lives in Jacmel due to the earthquake according to Emmet Murphy Chief of Party ACDIL VOCA. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock)

100117-F-1644L-086, originally uploaded by US_Air_Force.

With Port-au-Prince’s overworked airport (MTPP) now straining to handle over 200 aircraft movements per day, USAF combat controllers have examined the airfield at Jacmel (MTJA), on Haiti’s southern coast, and decided to utilise it.

1/19/2010 – WASHINGTON (AFNS) — As some 200 daily flights transit through the congested and sole functioning Haitian airport in the capital of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. military officials are going to open a second runway in the city of Jacmel within a day.

The airfield will receive C-130 Hercules deliveries that initially will support Canadian humanitarian assistance efforts centered in the southern city about 30 miles southeast of the Haitian capital, a military official said.

“The first (additional) runway in Haiti proper will go into operation in the vicinity of Jacmel within the next 24 hours,” Army Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, the second in command of U.S. operations in Haiti, told Pentagon reporters Jan. 19.

— Kruzel, John J.  “U.S. to open additional runway in Haiti.” American Forces Press Service, 19 January 2010.

Here’s a look at the field itself:

Jacmel Airport (MTJA)

REF: N18° 14′ 28″  W072° 31′ 07″, Elev 167ft.
OPR: Autorité Aeroportuaire Nationale
SERVICES: (Fuel, etc. ) Unknown
RWY DATA: Rwy 01 (005°) /19 (185°) 3300 x 95ft, asphalt.
LIGHTING: None
COMM: ATF 118.5

As with all Haitian airports, it has a single runway and tiny apron/ramp area.  The runway is certainly long enough to accomodate tactical airlifters such as C-130s; however it is 200 feet too short (and probably not structurally strong enough) to permit C-17s to land there.  The apron area is large enough to accommodate two C-130s or perhaps four or five light twins; rotary-wing aircraft can be parked on the grass to conserve ramp slots.  Unless USAF brings portable visual or infrared lighting systems, the field will be restricted to daytime operations only.

We can assume that fuel services are nil, at the moment, so as with MTPP, arriving aircraft will have to tanker their own fuel.  Canadian CC-130E/Hs have an effective range with max payload of approximately 1000 nautical miles (nm), however the main allied relief staging area, Homestead ARB, is 616nm from Jacmel.  This means that CF CC-130s operating into Jacmel will have to sacrifice payload for fuel; which they would have to do anyway in order to make the journey down to Homestead from Trenton (1,125nm).

Navy circle indicates CC-130 range with max normal payload, 1000 nautical miles. Because aircraft will need to tanker their own return fuel to Jacmel, they can not arrive with maximum normal payload.

Finally, some images of Jacmel Airport, sourced from Flickr.

Jacmel Airport Strip, originally uploaded by Haitian Children’s Home.

Jacmel Airport, originally uploaded by Haitian Children’s Home.

Waiting at the Jacmel Airport for the Plane, originally uploaded by Haitian Children’s Home.

Jacmel’s airport, originally uploaded by badfish006.

Jacmel 066, originally uploaded by JamesD1967.

UPDATE 030936Z FEB 10: Just noticed an informative Winnipeg Free Press report; routing between Trenton and Jacmel is being handled via Kingston, Jamaica.  The strat-lift CC-177s are transporting supplies and equipment between Trenton and Kingston, and the tac-lift CC-130s move the payload from Kingston to Jacmel.  More info on Jacmel in this post—MTJA airfield flow and relief operations.

Airdrop north of Port-au-Prince

Some images excerpted from a photo essay on AF.mil, covering the January 18th airdrop of food and water to a drop zone five miles north of Haiti’s capital city.

Air Force combat controllers exit a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to set up for an air delivery of humanitarian aid into Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan 18, 2010. The combat controllers are assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)

Air Force combat controllers talk to passing Haitians prior to humanitarian aid being air dropped into Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan 18, 2010. The combat controllers are assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)

A C-17 Globemaster III delivers humanitarian aid into the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan 18, 2010. Department of Defense assets have been deployed to assist in the Haiti relief effort following a magnitude 7 earthquake that hit the city on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III airdrops humanitarian aid into the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan 18, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)

An Air Force combat controller watches pallets after an air delivery of humanitarian aid Jan 18, 2010, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti for distribution. The combat controller is assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)

An Air Force combat controller packs up equipment after an air delivery of humanitarian aid in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan 18, 2010. The combat controller is assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)

An Air Force combat controller packs up equipment Jan 18, 2010 after an air delivery of humanitarian aid in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The combat controller is assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)

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817 CRG deploys to Haiti

The 817th Contingency Response Group is a USAF unit that can rapidly deploy personnel to quickly open airfields in remote locations.  It is focused on conducting three main missions:

  1. Initial Airbase Opening (IAO)
  2. Joint Task Force—Port Opening (JTF-PO), where USAF and US Army units create logistics and distribution chains
  3. Expeditionary Air Mobility Support (EAMS) where CRG personnel augment or relieve existing mission forces

On January 14th and 15th, these were very busy folks.  A fuller account of their work lies here, courtesy of Joint Base Charleston’s PA folks.  I have included a small sample of six images from the accompanying photo essay.

Tech. Sgt. Robert Mabry, a reservist Loadmaster with the 317th Airlift Squadron, 315th Airlift Wing, Charleston AFB, conducts pre-flight duties on the Charleston AFB flightline, en route to support relief efforts to Haiti Jan. 14 in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts)

Team Charleston members prepare to depart to McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., Jan. 14 to pick up humanitarian supplies to deliver to Haiti following the devastating 7.0 –magnitude earthquake that hit Tuesday morning. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Lauren Main)

Tech. Sgt. Robert Mabry, a reservist with the 317th Airlift Squadron, pushes cargo with help from Airmen from the 305th Aerial Port Squadron, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., as they load cargo onto a Charleston AFB C-17, supporting a swift and coordinated relief effort to Haiti Jan. 14 in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts)

Airmen with the 621st Contingency Response Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., catch a ride on a Charleston AFB C-17 just past midnight Jan. 15 en route to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in support of the relief efforts going on there after a devastating earthquake. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts)

Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., off load cargo from a Charleston AFB C-17 in the early morning Jan. 15 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in support of relief efforts in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts)

Tents on the edge of the flightline in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, provide shelter to personnel participating in the relief effort in Haiti after a devastating earthquake Jan. 15.

As you look at that last photo, it is worth remembering that the tarmac where those tents are pitched was also conducting 24-hour flight operations.  Not easy to get any rest with turbines screaming in your ear all night.

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Getting the cold shoulder

After an overnight snow storm hit the National Capitol Region, a C-17 Globemaster III from the 452nd Air Mobility Wing at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., sits on the flightline at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Jan. 8, 2010. Airmen spent most of the morning de-icing aircraft and clearing the flightline. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Perry Aston)

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Northrop Grumman takes KC-X ball and goes home

I can hardly believe they would give up a prize as lucrative as the KC-X contract, so this must be one hell of a tactical threat. Of the kind you only get to put in play once—make a habit of it, and you look like a spoiled brat.

In the words of NG’s President and Chief Operating Officer, Wes Bush:

“…I must regrettably inform you that in the absence of a responsive set of changes in the final RfP, Northrop Grumman has determined that it cannot submit a bid to the department for the KC-X programme,” he said.

EADS has said it stands by team partner Northrop Grumman’s decision.

Bush added that the DoD has shown a “clear preference” for a smaller aircraft than Northrop Grumman’s KC-45 offering – which is based on the Airbus A330 commercial aircraft – “with limited multirole capability”, and that the “imposition” of this “places contractual and financial burdens on the company that we simply cannot accept”.

— Wagstaff-Smith, Keri. “Northrop Grumman declares it will not submit KC-X bid unless RfP is changed.” Jane’s Information Group, 03 December 2009.

Presumably NG hopes a legion of congressmen will ride to its rescue, and demand the Air Force re-examine its request for proposal.  Otherwise, Boeing wins by default…?

Airdrop to Marine base in Afghanistan

AF.mil features yet another terrific series of images demonstrating the precision airdrop capabilities of Air Mobility Command.  This series is being used to illustrate an article which notes that AMC has airdropped 4.1 million pounds of goods to forward operating bases, combat outposts and other austere locations in September alone.  I have excerpted the photos here but kept the original captions intact:

Airman 1st Class Andrew Dasilva loads a C-17 Globemaster III with container delivery system bundles Sept. 23, 2009, at an air base in Southwest Asia. The bundles, full of supplies for Marines, will be dropped to a base in Afghanistan. Airman Dasilva is an 8th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron ramp service specialist. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angelita Lawrence)

Airman 1st Class Andrew Dasilva loads a C-17 Globemaster III with container delivery system bundles Sept. 23, 2009, at an air base in Southwest Asia. The bundles, full of supplies for Marines, will be dropped to a base in Afghanistan. Airman Dasilva is an 8th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron ramp service specialist. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angelita Lawrence)

Servicemembers load a C-17 Globemaster III with container delivery system bundles Sept. 23, 2009, at an air base in Southwest Asia. More than 4.1 million pounds of supplies were airdropped by the Air Force in the month of September. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angelita Lawrence)

Servicemembers load a C-17 Globemaster III with container delivery system bundles Sept. 23, 2009, at an air base in Southwest Asia. More than 4.1 million pounds of supplies were airdropped by the Air Force in the month of September. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angelita Lawrence)

A loadmaster from the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron waits for the signal to release container delivery system bundles from a C-17 Globemaster III Sept. 23, 2009, over Afghanistan. The bundles, full of supplies for Marines, will be dropped to a base in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angelita Lawrence)

A loadmaster from the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron waits for the signal to release container delivery system bundles from a C-17 Globemaster III Sept. 23, 2009, over Afghanistan. The bundles, full of supplies for Marines, will be dropped to a base in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angelita Lawrence)

Container delivery system bundles full of supplies are dropped out of a C-17 Globemaster III Sept. 23, 2009, over a base in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angelita Lawrence)

Container delivery system bundles full of supplies are dropped out of a C-17 Globemaster III Sept. 23, 2009, over a base in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angelita Lawrence)

Container delivery system bundles dropped from a C-17 Globemaster III touch down Sept. 23, 2009, outside a forward operating base in Afghanistan. More than 4 million pounds of supplies were delivered by the Air Force via airdrop in the month of September. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Shawn Weismiller)

Container delivery system bundles dropped from a C-17 Globemaster III touch down Sept. 23, 2009, outside a forward operating base in Afghanistan. More than 4 million pounds of supplies were delivered by the Air Force via airdrop in the month of September. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Shawn Weismiller)

In case you are wondering how all of those bundles are managing to arrive on the ground in a relatively tight group, it is because each CDS bundle has a GPS guidance package which steers its parachute to the designed landing spot.  The system is officially called JPADS (Joint Precision Airdrop System) AGAS (Affordable Guided Airdrop System) but is known more colloquially as “screamer”. (AGAS uses the standard G-12 round parachute, while JPADS uses a more manoeuvrable aerofoil chute.)

Berlin-Tempelhof

Tempelhof Air Base, circa August 1948.  (Truman Presidential Library)

Berlin-Tempelhof Airport, circa August 1948. (Truman Presidential Library)

It’s impossible, I think, for aviation historians not to have conflicting feelings about Berlin’s former Tempelhof Airport (EDDI).

The field was originally a home for a Templar organisation (hence “temple court”, or tempelhof), and in later years became a parade ground for Prussian soldiers and a picnic area for Berliners.  By the late 19th century some daring pioneers used the broad space to test aircraft prototypes—of both heavier- and lighter-than-air designs—with a few of the hydrogen-filled craft presaging the end of their most famous descendant by igniting spectacularly.  Tempelhof is where Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin demonstrated one of his first zeppelins at the turn of the century; where Orville Wright set an early altitude record of 564 feet (172 metres) in 1909; where Deutsche Luft Hansa was founded in 1926.

The original 1923 airport was a rather modest edifice that grew into a slightly grander structure (designed by architects Engler & Engler) a half-decade later.  But in 1934, Ernst Sagebiel gave Tempelhof its present iconic form; which led Sir Norman Foster to declare it “the mother of all airports”.  And it is indeed a sterling example of functional and artful airport design, one of Europe’s three main pre-war hubs.  (Croydon and Le Bourget are the others, and of those three, Le Bourget remains the only functioning airport.)  The fly in Tempelhof’s ointment is that it was designed to impress precisely because it would be the first structure of Hitler’s new capital that any international visitor would see. In fact it was designed to show off the best of German aviation technology to the public, and its enormous curved apron overhang was to serve a dual purpose.  Not only was the overhang the 1930s equivalent of a jetway (which allowed passengers to board aircraft in poor weather without getting wet), but the roof of that overhang is tiered; it was intended to house seats as a stadium-style vantage point from which the citizenry could watch air shows.

All of that casts a certain shadow on my aesthetic appreciation of it.

Tempelhof’s story does contain an element of redemption, however, when the Allies used it to relieve the starvation and privation of the destroyed city in 1948 and 1949—an episode we know as the Berlin Airlift.  That massive air mobility effort also gave birth to a host of innovations which, collectively, we can call modern air traffic control.  In the minds of Berlin’s children, Tempelhof’s dark national socialist past was expunged by the Airlift and its determined, hard-working Allied servicemen; men like Capt. Gail Halvorsen, who went out of their way to drop candy to the starving kids of the former enemy.  In 1970, then-Colonel Halvorsen returned to command Tempelhof Air Base for four years; many of Berlin’s grateful adults still remembered him fondly.

One day in July 1948 I met 30 kids at the barbed wire fence at Tempelhof in Berlin. They were excited. They said, “When the weather gets so bad you can’t land don’t worry about us. We can get by on little food but if we lose our freedom we may never get it back.” The principle of freedom was more important than the pleasure of enough flour. “Just don’t give up on us,” they said.

…A little girl, named Mercedes, wrote that I scared her chickens as I flew in to land but it was OK if I dropped the goodies where the white chickens were. I couldn’t find her chickens so I mailed her chocolate and gum through the Berlin mail. Twenty two years later, in 1970, I was assigned as the Commander of Tempelhof. One letter kept asking us to come to dinner. In 1972 we accepted. The lady of the house handed me a letter dated November 1948. It said, “Dear Mercedes I can’t find your chickens. I hope this is OK.” Signed, “Your Chocolate Uncle.” I had included a box of candy and gum. The lady looked at me with a smile and said, “I am Mercedes! Step over here and I will show you where the chickens were.” We are close friends today, November 2007.

A little girl accompanied by her mother came to my plane on the tarmac at Tempelhof. She offered me her only surviving possession; A well worn teddy bear. She presented it to me with tears in her eyes, “This kept me safe during the bombings. I want you to have it to keep you and the other fliers safe on your trips to Berlin.” I tried to refuse it but her mother said words to the effect that I must accept it because her daughter wanted to do all in her power to help save their city. I would like to find that little girl.

In 1998 on a visit to Berlin flying an old Airlift C-54, The Spirit of Freedom with Tim Chopp, a 60-year-old man told me he had caught a parachute in 1948. “It had a fresh Hershey candy bar attached. It took me a week to eat it,” he said. “I hid it day and night. But it was not the chocolate that was most important. The most important was that someone in America knew I was in trouble and someone cared. That was hope for me.” And then, with moist eyes, he said, “Without hope the soul dies. I can live on thin rations but not without hope.”

— Halvorsen, Gail S. (Colonel, USAF, Ret).  “Impressions of a Berlin Airlift Pilot.”  German Mission to the United States, November 2007.

Colonel Halvorsen clearly made one hell of a lasting impression on Berliners; some 54 years after the Airlift, during the 2002 Winter Olympics, he led the German team into Rice-Eccles Stadium during the opening ceremonies.  Regardless of Hitler and Speer’s bombastic hopes, to Berliners, Tempelhof now represents deliverance.  Deliverance from the privations of war and pangs of hunger; deliverance from yet another soulless tyranny creating human misery wherever its shadow falls.  The airport was not just emblematic of the Allied commitment to freedom; Tempelhof was where America and Germany forgot their enmity and started seeing each other as human beings again.

Today Tempelhof no longer receives aircraft; flying operations officially halted on October 30th, 2008, with the last three general aviation craft leaving on November 24th.  No official plan or concept on site re-use has been implemented.

Airport Berlin Tempelhof, originally uploaded by ilmitico.

Gigantic!, originally uploaded by roomman.

IMG_4161, originally uploaded by Nebuto.

Last flight to Brussel, originally uploaded by jrej.

From the roof at night, Tempelhof, originally uploaded by jrej.

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Antarctica

Our planet’s most southerly continent is notionally one of those awe-inspiring places I would like to visit.  At least for a couple of hours.  Ideally it would be as one of those C17 aircrews that flies in a load of gear and people, then jets right back out an hour later.

Of course there is the incredible visual poetry of the place, which is no doubt part of the enchantment that drove such as Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton to hazard their lives in exploration of it.

But it’s not all sweetness and light. The weather has rough days.

And so does the sea, too.

C-5M Super Galaxy sets 41 (unofficial) world records in a single flight

C-5M Super Galaxy "The Spirit of Normandy" departing Dover AFB for its record-breaking flight.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Jason Minto)

C-5M Super Galaxy "The Spirit of Normandy" departing Dover AFB for its record-breaking flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jason Minto)

9/14/2009 – DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. — A Dover aircrew flying a C-5M Super Galaxy, named The Spirit of Normandy, unofficially set 41 world records in a single flight, taking off from the base before dawn Sept. 13.

The results are pending certification by the National Aeronautic Association and should be finalized in about a month, said Kristan Maynard, the NAA official observer who documented the world record attempt. The NAA is the record-keeper for U.S. aviation.

…With a payload of about 178,000 pounds, the C-5M climbed to 12,000 meters (39,369 feet) in less than 28 minutes, setting the altitude, payload and time-to-climb records during the one-and-a-half-hour flight. Because they were successful, the records “trickled down” to the lighter payloads and lower altitudes.

…One of the records broken during the flight was previously held by the Russians who set it in 1989 with a Tupolev Tu-160 aircraft, said Mr. Maynard. It’s one of the more significant records broken: the altitude attained in horizontal flight.

The C-5M crew also set a new record for the greatest mass carried to 2,000 meters, set by a C-17A Globemaster III in 1993. The crew also broke six other records previously held by the C-17.

— Losurdo, Marnee (Capt., USAF).  “C-5M Super Galaxy unofficially sets 41 world records.”  512th Airlift Wing Public Affairs, 14 September 2009.

All right, I’m officially impressed.

A few years ago the Air Force was worried about the state of its C-5s.  The aircraft was a bit of a disappointment, frequently in need of repair or overhaul.  But when maintainers tested the airframes themselves, it discovered that about 80% of the planes’ structural life remained.  This revelation begat an effort to re-engine and modernise the C-5; they would receive new glass cockpits to replace the ’60s-vintage “steam gauges” (the Avionics Modernization Program, or AMP), and their original General Electric  TF39-GE-1C engines would be replaced with newer, more efficient General Electric F138-GE-100 engines (the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program, or RERP).

The RERP program experienced serious cost growth, resulting in the modernisation plans being limited to only half the fleet.  Around this time many wondered if AMP/RERP were still capable of delivering the Air Force’s dream of a revitalised C-5 fleet for less than the cost of replacement by C-17s.  The Galaxy fleet has been, to this point, a notorious collection of ramp queens, whose mission capable rate hovers around 58 percent, well below Air Mobility Command’s desired metric of 75 percent; in comparison the younger C-17 fleet typically scores about 85 percent.

Now that three of the AMPed/RERPed C-5Ms are out in the wild, we’ll have a better idea of what their reliability is going to be.  But this is a very auspicious start.

Supply drop in Afghanistan

AF.mil features a slideshow depicting a C-17 airdropping palletised cargo over Afghanistan.  I have excerpted some of the photos, but you can have a look at the whole thing here.

Senior Airman Bryce Kester inspects pallets of cargo that will be dropped from a C-17 Globemaster III to a forward operating base in Afghanistan, Aug. 27, 2009, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  Airman Kester is a loadmaster from the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, and deployed from McChord Air Force Base, Wash.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)

Senior Airman Bryce Kester inspects pallets of cargo that will be dropped from a C-17 Globemaster III to a forward operating base in Afghanistan, Aug. 27, 2009, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Airman Kester is a loadmaster from the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, and deployed from McChord Air Force Base, Wash. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)

Pallets of cargo drop from a C-17 Globemaster III to a forward operating base in Afghanistan, Aug. 27, 2009, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  The aircraft is assigned to the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)

Pallets of cargo drop from a C-17 Globemaster III to a forward operating base in Afghanistan, Aug. 27, 2009, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The aircraft is assigned to the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)

Pallets of cargo drop from a C-17 Globemaster III to a forward operating base in Afghanistan, Aug. 27, 2009, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  The aircraft is assigned to the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)

Pallets of cargo drop from a C-17 Globemaster III to a forward operating base in Afghanistan, Aug. 27, 2009, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The aircraft is assigned to the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)

Pallets of cargo drop from a C-17 Globemaster III to a forward operating base in Afghanistan, Aug. 27, 2009, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  The aircraft is assigned to the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)

Pallets of cargo drop from a C-17 Globemaster III to a forward operating base in Afghanistan, Aug. 27, 2009, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The aircraft is assigned to the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)