The US Air Force's (USAF) two C-130J Super Hercules from 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron (EAS) have flown to Iraq, becoming the first coalition aircraft to land on the airfield since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve.
The aircraft landed at Qayyarah West Airfield, where the runway was recently refurbished.
Repair works on the runway began after Iraqi security forces retook the airfield from ISIS in July this year.
386th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron commander lieutenant colonel John Poole said:
“It’s taken several months to plan this mission.
“A big part of it was since before the airfield was taken, we knew that it had been damaged significantly by (ISIS) as they were either holding the field or then evacuating the area as the Iraqi security forces liberated the field.
"It’s taken several months to repair that damage.”
Both C-130s transported firefighters and their equipment in order to establish fire rescue capability at the airfield for future flights.
The aircraft also brought along ammunition, both for defence of the airfield itself and for ground troops moving into Mosul.
737th EAS instructor pilot major Jeff Noble said that it was difficult to fly into a newly renovated airfield 'under cover of darkness'.
Noble further added: “When there is no other lighting around, it can be very difficult to see other features, so you have to trust in your planning in order to make sure that the mission is successful.
“Sometimes it can be just landing in a black hole with four little lights, which is what we had the other night.”
Image: The 737th EAS flew the first coalition mission into the airfield since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve. (US Air Force photo / Staff Sgt. Aaron Richardson).