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Air Force C-130s land at Lielvarde AB for the first time

RIGA, Latvia (AFNS) -- Three U.S. Air Force C-130J Hercules from the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, landed on Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia, June 17, making them the first U.S. Air Force aircraft to land at the newly-renovated installation.

The aircraft brought equipment and approximately 90 Airmen from the 435th Contingency Response Group to participate in Air Force-specific training as part of Saber Strike 2014. They will also support the ground forces of the exercise with cargo drops at the Ādaži Training Area.

The 435th CRG comprises 42 career fields and is the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa's only force capable of establishing contingency airfield operations and initial command and control to enable global reach and power. Additionally, the 435th CRG provides theater-wide design, construction and technical assistance, as well as delivers multi-functional expeditionary force protection forces.

During the final week of Saber Strike 2014, the 435th CRG, in conjunction with the 37th AS, will train on the full capabilities to open Lielvarde AB. They will provide airfield operations, command and control of air and space forces, weather support, protection of operational forces, aircraft maintenance and aerial port services.

In preparation for the main body arrival, the 37th AS performed an aerial drop of 28 435th CRG Airmen and equipment at Lielvarde AB June 16. The team of paratroopers, along with a select few CRG members already in country, performed airfield surveys to ensure safe arrival of the main body of aircraft and personnel.

Exercising these unique capabilities at Lielvarde AB provides the opportunity to develop the skills required to open the base and receive aircraft. Conducting this exercise with Latvian partners also represents a step toward further development of the air base's infrastructure and operations.