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U.S. Air Force Europe Train Air Crews, C-130Js in Israel

On a recent training exercise U.S. Air Force Europe (USAFE) C-130J Hercules tactical transport aircraft and their crews deployed to the Israel Air Force Base at Nevatim, in the Northern Negev desert in southern Israel, for a period of 10 days. According to USAFE, news release, the units, belonging to Ramstein, Germany based 37th Airlift Squadron participated in the exercise Dec. 1 through 10 to accomplish various training requirements for the C-130J Super Hercules which are not allowed in Germany because of country regulations.

Photo above: Ramstein units participated in a 10-day training exercise to accomplish training requirements because of the strict air restrictions in Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Mosness)

During the training, the 37th AS was able to get many pilots qualified on training necessities. More than 100 people participated in the training, supporting the flight and ground operations of the unit. A significant part of the flight operations included low level flights over the Israeli Negev desert, air drops of supplies and landing at the Bar-Yehuda landing strip near Masada, at a negative altitude of -1200 ft below sea level.

The squadron received its C-130J aircraft in April 2009 and has since performed a series of familiarity activities to train the air crews with the different roles, missions and operating conditions they may encounter on their operations. "Training is hard to achieve in Germany because of the air space restrictions," said Capt. Sarah Santoro, 37th Airlift Squadron mission commander for the Israel off-station training. "Some of the things we were able to accomplish in Israel were dirt landings and low- level flying. This is a great training opportunity as the environment has similarities to where we would deploy to, such as Africa or the Middle East."

"Everything has gone well," Captain Santoro said. "One of the main things we have been able to achieve is seasoning with the J-model since we are still learning the plane. It has allowed us to become more familiar with the airplane." And, for some, the training was a first. "Many of the pilots had never done a dirt landing, so they were excited to have the chance," Captain Santoro added.

While in Israel, many of Airmen were also able to work closely and build partnerships with the Israeli military members, something which many said was a highlight of their trip. "The Israelis were eager to host us as they are supposed to be getting J-models in the near future," Captain Santoro said. "They seem impressed with the airplanes. The Israelis have been a phenomenal partner. The interaction has allowed us to take away and learn a lot."


Above: U.S. Air Force Capt. Sarah Santoro, 37th Airlift Squadron mission commander for the Israel off station training, navigates over the Dead Sea, the lowest point in the world, Dec. 6, 2009.


Below: U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Greg Everett, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, briefs the Israeli Air Force loadmaster on the new C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, Dec. 9, 2009, Nevatim Air Force Base, Israel. The Israeli Army had observers on every flight during the 10-day training exercise for Ramstein Air Base. The Israelis were eager to host Ramstein units to learn more about the C-130J models they will be getting in the next couple of years. (Photos: U.S. Air Force, by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Mosness)