DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Sitting center stage among the U.S. department of defense aircraft supporting the 2013 Dubai Airshow here is a U.S. Air Force C-130J Hercules.
The aircraft and its crew of eight, assigned to the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, deployed from Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., flew in to support the five-day DAS, sharing the technology of the improved J-series aircraft.
“If anyone wants to know about the C-130J, we’re here to tell them about it,” said Capt. Scott Stapp, a C-130J pilot and a Biloxi, Miss., native.
Like many pilots, Stapp takes a tremendous amount of pride and ownership in the abilities of his aircraft while explaining the capabilities of the C-130.
“It’s better than other cargo jets because it can haul a lot [of cargo], it’s more powerful, very fast and able to operate on extremely small amounts of runway,” Stapp said.
The primary mission of the Hercules is tactical airlift, with the ability to operate from rough strips of terrain and serves as the prime transport for airdropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.
The C-130J is the latest addition to the C-130 fleet, with “state- of –the art” technology reducing manpower requirements, lowers operation and support costs and overall improved life-cycle costs over older Hercules models.
“Nearly everyone has seen a C-130, but this one is different,” Stapp said, adding even a few DOD personnel have stopped by and inquired about the differences. “It’s good to re-educate even our own people about the new J model. It may look like the older C-130, but it’s a totally different aircraft.”
The crew in attendance was hand-selected by their squadron’s leadership to participate in the show.
“We had to have certain skillsets and certifications,” said Master Sgt. Michael Lee, a C-130 crew chief and McHenry, Miss., native, who is supporting the airshow for the second time. “Not only do we need to be able to speak to the capabilities of the aircraft, but to ensure we are able to maintain the aircraft throughout the show in case of any issues and get it back [to its deployed location] at the end of the show.”
The U.S. participates in the Dubai Air Show to demonstrate a commitment to regional security, to demonstrate the flexibility of airpower, and to strengthen military-to-military relationships with regional partners.
In addition to the C-130J Hercules, other supporting DOD aircraft included the F-15E Strike Eagle, E-2 Advanced Hawkeye, MV-22 Osprey, P-8A Poseidon, AH-1Z Cobra, UH-1Y Huey and an F-18 Super Hornet and fly-bys of a B-1B Lancer and F-22 Raptor.
“It’s definitely a change of pace from the work we’ve been doing the last couple months,” added Tech. Sgt. Jonathan McCarty, a C-130 also a Biloxi, Miss., native. “It’s bigger than any airshow I’ve been to and I’m glad to have an opportunity to talk to people about our aircraft and show them what it’s capable of.”