USAF, IAF complete historic joint training at JBER

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    JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Airmen from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and the Indian Air Force achieved a historic milestone after completing a joint air transportability training sortie Tuesday.

    JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Airmen from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and the Indian Air Force achieved a historic milestone after completing a joint air transportability training sortie Tuesday.

    Three Indian Air Force Airmen rode along on a C-17 Globemaster III crewed by the 517th Airlift Squadron as part of a tactics, techniques and procedures exchange program between the two countries, marking the first time such training has been conducted between India and the United States at JBER.

    "We are here to practice procedures we are adopting in India," said Wing Cmdr. Sukumar S.Kumar, IAF 77th Squadron parajump instructor leader. "Quite often, this will help us when operating together in the future."

    The three-day exchange allowed the IAF members to see many different facets of JBER. The highlight of the exchange was the sortie, in which Army personnel and their equipment were airdropped to Allen Army Airfield, Fort Greely, Alaska.

    "As pilots, our objective was to see and understand how USAF pilots are operating their aircraft while the drops are taking place," said Squadron Leader Hans Raj Bhatt, IAF 77th Squadron C-130J Hercules pilot and transport combat leader. "We want to see and compare the nuances so we have a better understanding of how to better operate."

    U.S. Air Force Capt. Zach Coburn, 517th Airlift Squadron C-17 instructor pilot, said focusing on communication was a key teaching and learning point for the sortie.

    "Communication is very important," Coburn said. "There are critical crunch points throughout the flight. The IAF was able to observe and see they have a lot of the same challenges and we shared ideas on how to work through them."

    Bhatt said he agreed with Coburn and said the trip also served as a quality control check. The IAF had received similar training three years ago at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.

    "The procedures we have set in place, they are primarily based upon the training that was imparted to us during out trip to Little Rock," Bhatt said. "The objective was to see if we have departed anywhere from that training, and we are happy to say we have not. That's a big takeaway for us."

    Although the pilots who visited currently fly the C-130J, the IAF is beefing up its transport capability in the form of a C-17 fleet.

    "The IAF will have the second largest C-17 fleet in the world," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Michael Bliss, 703d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. "They are a key partner in the Pacific Command Area of Responsibility. Events like this, where ideas and lessons learned are exchanged, are key to the further interoperability in capabilities such as airlift, air delivery, search and rescue, and aeromedical evacuation."

    Bliss emphasized the mutual shared benefit of the program as key to the program's success.

    "I think both countries desire to coordinate closely to enhance the ability for PACAF and IAF to operate alongside each other in bi/multi-lateral operations. Tactical exchanges like this will make that a reality."

    While there are worlds of difference between a C-130 and a C-17, Bhatt said the concepts of airdrop and transportation is similar.

    "The concepts are more or less the same, so we received some very beneficial training," Bhatt said. "It was an awesome learning experience."

    Both sides had only glowing reports for each other.

    "They are extremely professional, upstanding and friendly people," Coburn said. "They were here to observe but wanted to help wherever they could - push a pallet or carry something. It's always rewarding when you get to meet an individual who does the same thing you do but from a different cultural perspective. Meeting them and learning from them was a fantastic experience."

    The IAF echoed their USAF counterpart's words.

    "We are proud and privileged to be here," S.Kumar said. "Everyone we have interacted with has been so warm and welcoming. The crew we flew with today was very professional. We are looking forward to when we can do this again."

    http://www.jber.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123424591
     
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