Military personnel from the US Air Force’s (USAF) 317th Airlift Group (317th AG) participated in Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise (CJOAX) 15-01 at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, US.
CJOAX drills are held multiple times each year. They certify the air force and army’s ability to deploy strategic airlift, contingency, and support forces in a large formation airdrop.
Apart from the 317th AG and other air force mobility assets, including C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, the exercise also included parajumpers from the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division (82nd AD), as well as the UK Royal Air Force’s 47th Squadron and Army’s 16th Air Assault Brigade.
317th AG commander colonel Jeffrey Brown said: "The goal is to successfully exercise our ability to conduct a joint forced entry operation against an adversary.
"The fact that so many organisations and units can descend onto Pope AAF and execute such a complex mission is an awesome testament to the way we trained and organised and equipped."
During initial days of the drill, the units work together in small-scale formations focused on addressing their differences and finding solutions to common issues.
The exercise culminated in a 23-ship tactical airlift formation, which dropped 2,100 paratroopers and hundreds of tons of equipment onto a drop zone at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in a simulated joint forcible entry.
Apart from CJOAX 15-01, the aircraft also picked up soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd AD, and air-dropped them as part of Global Response Force Exercise, which demonstrates a short-notice, mass-deployment for combat or humanitarian support.
The week-long exercise provided 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s maintainers and aircrews with opportunities to work hand-in-hand with the 43rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airmen that supports a multitude of aircraft platforms.
40th Airlift Squadron loadmaster staff sergeant Craig Morrison said: "It’s been great building a partnership with the 82nd Airborne Division and the British Royal Air Force because we are able to learn how each other operate and fine-tune our processes.
"If we do deploy with these units, we can work more efficiently as a team."
Image: A C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 317th Airlift Group airdrops parajumpers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, US. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo / Senior Airman Peter Thompson.