The US Air Force has conducted its first ever low-cost, low-altitude (LCLA) combat airdrop mission from a C-130 Hercules aircraft, in Afghanistan.
LCLA airdrops by Hercules aircrews are designed to make deliveries more accurate and flexible for resupplying small and mobile forces in Afghanistan.
The new airdrop method will be useful for the air force to drop what ground forces require during combat operations in Afghanistan’s rugged terrain.
During the C-130 LCLA mission, bundles weighing 80lb to 500lb were dropped with pre-packed expendable parachutes in groups of up to four bundles a pass.
Air mobility division director Col. Keith Boone said this new method was important in the fight against counterinsurgency but would not be wholly replacing air-land missions.
The LCLA drop is more accurate than traditional, higher-altitude airdrop methods and reduces the chance of stray bundles landing away from the drop zone.
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Additionally, it does not require any kind of specialised training for parachute riggers, so can be dropped from a variety of aircraft.
The 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron assistant director of operations Lt. Col. Darryl Sassaman said the goal for this mission was to fly to a small forward-operating base and drop some of the smaller bundles to them.
The air force conducted the LCLA mission on 6 February, and made it operational on 1 March.