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Cope South experts exchange knowledge, techniques

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Jake Bailey
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
The flight line here at exercise Cope South 15 (CS15) is usually a flurry of activity every morning, with maintainers firing up auxiliary power units and loadmasters finalizing their cargo plan.

However on Jan. 27, there wasn't a single C-130 Hercules aircraft engine running. Instead, U.S. and Bangladesh air force (BAF) airmen were busy forging relationships and exchanging knowledge in their respective fields with one another.

CS15 featured subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) across a multitude of Air Force specialties, including operations, maintenance and rigging disciplines. Airmen from Yokota Air Base, Japan, had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with their respective BAF counterparts and learn aspects of each other's duties and technical prowess.

"SMEE day is probably the most important block of time here at Cope South," said Maj. Adam Staubach, the Cope South mission commander. "It's really where the exercise takes off in terms of developing an understanding of each other's capabilities and sharing ways in which we can operate more cohesively as a unified force."

Staff Sgt. Scott Sorensen, a 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-130H guidance and control system technician, had an opportunity to engage with several BAF maintenance personnel who share his specialty and discuss a variety of aircraft maintenance matters.

"Although the BAF maintainers work on the C-130B and we work on the C-130H, we are very similar in a lot of ways," Sorensen said. "They've seen and done a lot of things with the (Hercules) during their careers. As a fellow maintainer, I can appreciate their attention to detail and commitment to keep it flying 100 percent."

One of the busiest exchanges happened in the cargo hold area of the flightline, where riggers and loadmasters from Yokota's 374th Airlift Wing demonstrated their patented low-cost, low-altitude (LCLA) airdrop bundle techniques to Bangladeshi airmen.

The LCLA airdrop configuration utilizes minimal rigging supplies and decommissioned personnel parachutes that are still serviceable to deliver customized cargo -- such as humanitarian aid and disaster relief -- in bundles up to 600 pounds. Additionally, it can be rigged in a "coastal" configuration suitable for a shoreline drop zone.

"LCLA offers a cheap, effective and accurate delivery system that is transferable across the tactical airlift, especially the C-130, community," said Staff. Sgt. Wantani Redo, a U.S. Army-certified rigger assigned to the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron. "This region is prone to floods and natural disasters, so we're excited and proud to share this innovative airdrop method with our Bangladeshi partners."

To further demonstrate the technique, two LCLA bundles configured by Yokota and BAF airmen were loaded on a BAF C-130B aircraft for delivery to a forward drop zone near Sylhet. The following day, Bangladeshi airmen pushed the bundles from the ramp of their C-130 where each successfully landed in its designated drop area.

"Days like today are an important way to learn not only about each other, but how we can improve our teamwork as Airmen," Wantani said.