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Yokota Airmen share airdrop techniques with Japanese counterparts

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cody H. Ramirez
  • 374th AIrlift Wing Public Affairs
Yokota Airmen from the 374th Airlift Wing showcased their low-cost, low-altitude airdrop methods and capabilities with Japan Air Self-Defense Force members, showing their counterparts how to provide affordable, reliable, safe and accurate airdrops for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. 

"For $15 a rig, you can provide 600 pounds of medical or other supplies to people in need," said Lt. Col. Andrew Campbell, 36th Airlift Squadron deputy commander. "You have to have a fixed wing aircraft to deliver loads that size and it is essential in disaster stricken areas lacking airstrips or safe landing zones."

It is this cost-effective and efficient support that makes these rigs a sought after capability.

Tech. Sgt. Miguel Vasquez, 374 Logistical Readiness Squadron combat mobility flight, headed a team of Airmen to teach the defense force how to build the rigs, explaining technicalities such as suspended weight, package strength, the different components and how they come together to ensure a safe and effective airdrop.

Parachute packing procedures and weight rations, such as each parachute's ability to support 300 pounds, are also discussed. Every small detail comes together to create bundles that safely land after being dropped from an aircraft.

"We showed our methods for low cost, low altitude airdrops, so maybe they (defense force) can get their own program up and running and possibly join us on missions," Vasquez said.

In addition to low cost, low altitude building procedures, 36 AS pilots and loadmasters review loading and releasing of single and multi-bundle packages. Details regarding release height and processes and drop zones are also reviewed.

Vasquez said this is only the beginning. More defense force members are scheduled to join members of the 36 AS to Operation Christmas Drop, a humanitarian relief effort bringing supplies to more than 50 Micronesian Islands every year in December.

Many events between U.S. and Japanese air forces are coordinated by military members filling roles in the exchange program, a program that assigns military members to roles in foreign military partners.

"A cross flow of information is what we do in the exchange program," said Maj. Jack Beene, a newly assigned exchange program member headed to Komaki Air Base, Japan, to work alongside defense force airmen.

Beene said he will be coordinating between the Air Force and the defense force to advance capabilities both sides either have or lack. He added that the role himself and others fill is essential because it shows invested trust between the U.S. and their allies, in this case, Japan.

The fundamentals learned from their U.S. Air Force counterparts will lend a hand in the creation of their low cost, low altitude program, according to Campbell. The techniques will be used during an exercise at Miho Air Base, Japan, in January, and are scheduled to be used at Cope North in February.

The defense force airmen were excited to observe the airdrops and build upon their relationship with Yokota and the 374 AW.

"We are thankful for the warm welcome today and are hopeful in the future to fly missions together overseas," said defense force Col. Yasuji Kitamura, Air Support Command head of A5.

Yokota Airmen share a similar vision of strengthening the U.S.-Japan airlift relationship.

"The more opportunities we get to fly together, the stronger we become," said Col. Robert Blagg, 374th Operations Group commander. "In an unstable world we live, there are no better friends than our allies. And, in airdrop, we have no better allies than the Japanese."