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Scott hosts first jump on new drop zone

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- Scott Air Force Base hosted its first airdrop on a new drop zone here March 1, 2017.

Eight Airmen from Scott Air Force Base and Little Rock AFB, Arkansas, jumped from an Air National Guard C-130H Hercules assigned to the 180th Airlift Squadron in St. Joseph, Missouri. This jump provided currency and proficiency for Air Force parachute riggers, jumpers, aircrew, air traffic controllers and a multitude of ancillary personnel.

While there have been live jumps at Scott before, this is the first onto the recently certified drop zone. Led by the 375th Operations Support Squadron, this first time use onto this drop zone was the result of a two-year initiative to increase the readiness of Scott Airmen and partners.

“We are excited for the opportunity to work with the total force, sister services and partner nations who need a place to hone their combat skills,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Getty, the 375th OSS commander.

He explained that Scott AFB has not been previously considered a viable option for airborne drops because of the 375th Air Mobility Wing’s relatively small number of active jump personnel, and the numerous restrictions that had been levied on airfield operations throughout the years.

“We discovered that not only does the need for this type of capability extend well beyond the 375th AMW to many of our installation, regional and international partners, but also that our local procedures and services were not keeping pace with evolving mission sets,” Getty said.

As a result, operators have overlooked Scott when seeking to meet training requirements which, combined with reduced flying hours across the Defense Department and the reduction of home station aircraft, has eroded the proficiency of personnel who depend on aircraft operations to maintain their combat readiness, Getty said.

“We found that it was taking our Airmen an inordinate amount of time to get up to speed in the deployed environment which is something we cannot afford,” he said.

Between 2010 and 2015, the airfield saw roughly a 40 percent drop in aircraft operations. However, with initiatives such as the new drop zone, aircraft hot refueling and the removal of legacy airfield restrictions, the 375th OSS has increased operations by 63 percent in just the past 18 months—the number one increase in Air Mobility Command.

“We plan to continue jump operations in the future and are excited to share this new capability with other organizations,” said Maj. Ray Mamuad, the 375th OSS flight commander. “In fact we have already scheduled a number of jumps this spring that will include joint and Air Force units.”

Jumpers included active duty personnel from the 375th OSS’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape flight and members of Little Rock AFB’s 19th OSS, 19th Aerospace Medicine Squadron and the Reserves’ 913th OSS.

Tech. Sgt. Kyle Oler, the 375th NCO in charge of SERE operations, said that the Scott drop zone is perfect for units that need to practice static and freefall jumps.

“This jump mission was a total force partnership that involved airlift from 180th AS from St. Joseph, Missouri, jump masters and drop zone safety support from Little Rock AFB and organic assets from here at Scott,” Oler said. “[This jump] gave Scott Airmen great practical, live training. The team from Little Rock was instrumental in instructing our team on how to safely and effectively execute jump operations and I’m confident that we, along with our local airlift partners, can continue to provide this great capability to units across the region.”