Tag Archives: C-130J Super Hercules

Fuji Cherry Blossoms

With the sakura about to bloom in Japan in the coming weeks, I thought this imagery was appropriate.

Official caption: Paratroopers from 陸上自衛隊 Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s 1st Airborne Brigade (Narashino kūtei-dan) descend from United States Air Force C-130J Super Hercules aircraft over JGSDF East Fuji Maneuver Area, Japan, during “Airborne 23,’ Jan. 31, 2023. In all, some 300 JGSDF paratroopers performed a static-line jump to drop zones at the Higashi-Fuji training field, carried by planes operated by the 374th Airlift Wing’s 36th Airlift Squadron out of Yokota Air Base, showcasing the strategic importance of engaging in joint airborne operations.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

The jump came just two weeks after the annual New Year’s Jump during which USAF, U.S. Army, British Army, Royal Australian army, and Japanese 1st ABN members conducted at Camp Narashino on 8 January.

As for the 36th Airlift, they are celebrating some 80 years in the paratrooper biz in 2023, having conducted airborne assaults on Sicily, Normandy, Holland, and Germany during World War II.

71st West Pac Christmas Drop

We’ve talked about the long-running Operation Christmas Drop exercise several times in the past.

Besides its obvious humanitarian “hearts and minds” goodwill in stretches of the Western Pacific that often don’t get a lot of attention, it also provides a chance for C-130 units around the Rim to get some real-world training should they be needed to, say, handle low-key resupply for isolated company-sized Marine rocket batteries dropped off on random atolls with little infrastructure but within range of Chinese maritime assets.

Anyway, the 71st OCD just concluded, seeing a few interesting things including seven Herky birds from the U.S. Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force (No.37 Sqn), Japan Air Self-Defense Force (401st Tactical Airlift Squadron), Republic of Korea Air Force (251st Tactical Air Support Squadron), and Royal New Zealand Air Force (No. 40 Sqn) taxi in formation during a multinational “elephant walk” at Andersen Air Force Base, in Guam.

“Operation Christmas Drop 2022” graphic placed onto a C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Nov. 16, 2022. The artwork celebrates the 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop which is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian and disaster relief mission. Each year, the USAF partners with countries in the Pacific Air Forces area of responsibility to deliver supplies to remote islands in the South-Eastern Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Furnary, 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron director of operations, uses a radio to communicate with C-130 pilots at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 10, 2022, during Operation Christmas Drop 2022. 

(Right to Left) A Japan Air Self-Defense Force C-130H Hercules assigned to the 401st Tactical Airlift Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 37 Squadron, Republic of Korea Air Force C-130H Hercules assigned to the 251st Tactical Air Support Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130H Hercules assigned to 40 Squadron, and U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron sit on the flightline at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam

Seven C-130 Aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Australian Air Force, and Royal New Zealand Air Force take part in an elephant walk to signify the end of Operation Christmas Drop 2022, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 10, 2022. 

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Furnary, 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron director of operations, salutes to an Air Force C-130J Super Hercules’ crewmembers at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 10, 2022, during Operation Christmas Drop 2022. 

In all, the C-130 crewmembers delivered 209 bundles with humanitarian aid totaling more than 71,000 pounds of cargo to more than 22,000 remote Micronesian islanders on 56 islands throughout the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau.

This broke last year’s record of 185 bundles.

These included snorkels, flippers and fishing equipment; rice, eskies, containers and cookware; and gifts including colouring pencils, books, sporting equipment and toys.

The box-build process gets a lot of involvement on base from the community, cumulating in a “Bundle Build Day” at Andersen.

After rigging, Andersen’s 734th Air Mobility Squadron and the 44th Aerial Port Squadron (Reserve Component) Port Dawgs partnered to load the 450-pound chute-rigged bundles and service the C-130s for continued sorties.

“It remains the longest-running U.S. Department of Defense humanitarian and disaster relief mission that is supported by multiple Herc fleets from across the region.”

Santa, C-130s, and isolated Pacific resupply

The U.S. Air Force, operating in conjunction this year with the Japan Self-Defense Force, just wrapped up the 69th annual Operation Christmas Drop, tossing out 3,200-pounds of humanitarian aid from the back of a moving Herky bird in 64 bundles over the course of a week to eagerly awaiting communities in Micronesia.

A bundle is airdropped from a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to Yokota Air Base, Japan, onto Kayangel, Republic of Palau, during Operation Christmas Drop 2020, Dec. 10. By using low-cost low-altitude airdrop procedures, the U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force were able to deliver humanitarian aid across the South-Eastern Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)

To be sure, it is a feel-good operation. Something to be proud of. Winning hearts and minds. 

However, keep in mind that such drops are real-world training for these same Western Pacific-based C-130 units should they be needed to, say, handle low-key resupply for isolated company-sized Marine rocket batteries dropped off on random atolls with little infrastructure but within range of Chinese maritime assets.

Speaking of which, this year’s OCD was the first that saw bundles dropped on Peleliu.

For those keeping track at home, Peleliu was, of course, a hard-won strategic pin in the map on the push towards Okinawa and the Philippines in 1944-45. The historic island currently has a population of about ~400 locals and the WWII-era airstrip, seen towards the end of the OCD video, is in pretty rough shape.

That beat-down airstrip doesn’t negate the fact that places like Peleliu are getting important once again. Maybe important enough that C-130s ought to be practicing cargo drops there. Oh wait.