Leadership: August 27, 2004

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The U.S. Air Force has finally issued a combat manual for its air transport crews. Air transport units have never considered themselves combat organizations, even through they often operate in combat zones, and under fire. However, since September 11, 2001, the Air Mobility Command (AMC), which controls all the air force air transports (C-130s, C-17s, tankers, C-5s, Etc.), has flown into a lot of hostile areas. First there was Afghanistan, then Iraq. But terrorists are everywhere, and large military transports are tempting targets. Flying the transports under fire is nothing new, and over the decades, special documents have been prepared to instruct the transport crews on how to handle these situations. Now all of that knowledge has been collected into a single CD. The manual, with separate volumes addressing specifics for each of AMCs cargo and tanker aircraft, presents everything the air force knows about handling transports in combat situations.. Each aircraft type gets 350 to 500 pages describing aircraft performance, defensive systems and mission planning operations. The CD also includes graphics, videos, tables and charts. The project took only a few months to put the CD together, mainly because so much of the information was already available electronically. The key part of the project was setting up a standard format and making sure key issues were addressed for every aircraft. Now pilots or crew chiefs moving to another aircraft type will be able to quickly get up to speed on any differences in how the new aircraft operates in a combat zone. Not all aircraft, for example, can use the same evasive maneuvers when taking off or landing at an airport that might involve some hostile ground fire. Not all aircraft use anti-missile systems the same way. Theres also practical advice for what to do after you land in a combat zone, no matter what kind of aircraft you are in. While the fighter and bomber pilots have their how to fight manual, the transport crews now have a how to survive one.

 


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