Aircrews of the 352nd Special Operations Group conducted midnight training maneuvers in the skies above Poland to maintain their state of mission readiness Sept. 18 during Exercise Jackal Stone ‘10.
Jackal Stone ‘10, hosted by both Poland and Lithuania this year, is an annual international special operations forces (SOF) exercise held in Europe. Its objective is to enhance capabilities and interoperability amongst the participating special operations forces as well as build new relationships and strengthen current ones.
Units participating in the exercise, such as the 352nd Special Operations Group based out of RAF Mildenhall, England, take advantage of this exercise to sharpen their skills.
352nd SOG aircrews took two MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft through various flight maneuvers such as formation flight, cargo air drop operations and in-flight refueling.
Pre-flight checks were conducted by crewmembers as loadmasters and cargo specialists loaded airdrop training bundles into the planes’ cargo holds.
“We built the platforms and drums that were used in the cargo air drop,” a cargo specialist said. “We even rigged the parachute that was attached to the top of the bundle to be used in the aerial drop.”
The four main items that are typically bundled are fuel, ammunition, water, and food.
“The cargo compartment can hold up to 12 bundles or up to 26,000 pounds of equipment,” said the senior loadmaster.
The mission began with two Combat Shadows flying in formation. As the training progressed, the crews conducted evasive maneuvers while flying at low levels in reaction to simulated area threats.
The Combat Shadows continued the ‘nap-of-the-earth’ flying until they reached the drop zone, where the loadmasters prepared the bundles to be airdropped to special operations forces on the ground.
After the air drop, the Combat Shadows linked up with a 100th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 ‘Stratotanker’ waiting to refuel them while in flight. Refueling was the last task required to successfully complete the night’s training mission.
“This training prepares us to be an asset to the operators on the ground by delivering critical supplies in the hours of darkness at a pre-determined location,” said the flight engineer. “We also can sustain operations in the air for long periods of time without having to touch down on the ground by refueling in the air. This maintains our ability to fly in support of our operators when they need us.”