A Canadian Leopard tank is driven onto the C-17 Globemaster III named the "Spirit of McChord" for transport Oct. 7 from Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, to Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan. The "Spirit of McChord" and its crew made two trips in one day shuttling Canadian armor and heavy equipment into theatre. The crews and C-17s are deployed from the 10th Airlift Squadron at McChord Air Force Base, Wash. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Mitch Gettle)
Tech. Sgt. John Woodard (left) and Senior Airman Jeramia Valentine calculate the chain strength needed to ensure the Canadian Leopard tank will not move during a flight. Both Airmen are deployed to Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, from the 10th Airlift Squadron at McChord Air Force Base, Wash. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Mitch Gettle)
Senior Airman Jeramia Valentine tightens a chain to secure a Canadian Leopard tank Oct. 7 for transportation from Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, to Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan. Airman Valentine is a loadmaster deployed from the 10th Airlift Squadron at McChord Air Force Base, Wash. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Mitch Gettle)
by Master Sgt. Mitch Gettle
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
10/10/2006 - MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan (AFPN) -- Normally they move people, humanitarian supplies, troop rations and equipment, but Airmen with the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron's Detachment 1 here were tasked Oct. 7 to move different equipment -- several 30-foot, 100,000 pound Canadian tanks.
The C-17 Globemaster III "Spirit of McChord" and its crew made two trips to Kandahar AB, Afghanistan, in one day to transport the equipment for Canadian ground forces supporting the NATO mission.
Col. Michael McLean, Canadian Defense Attaché, said the Leopard tanks will support Canadian troops by providing greater mobility on the ground and more flexible options. "The enhancements will enable troops to counter threats more effectively and safely," said Colonel McLean. "The sooner we can provide the security and stability, the sooner we can help the Afghan people develop a positive and independent future for themselves and their children."
The 817th EAS, deployed from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., supports the mission of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, NATO forces, and operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
"It filled me with pride watching a (Canadian) tank being loaded onto a McChord C-17," said Senior Airman Bryan Mumma, 376th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, also deployed from McChord AFB. "We work hard to keep our aircraft operational as the supplies we deliver downrange are crucial to our troops and in this case, to the Canadian ground forces."
Other C-17s and crews, also deployed from McChord AFB, worked all week to move the much-needed equipment to the U.S. coalition partners in theater.
Preparing a tank for flight falls on the shoulders of the C-17 loadmasters, who ensure this 30-foot weapon weighing more than 100,000 pounds is properly positioned and secured in the cargo compartment.
As the tank is driven onto the C-17, the loadmaster marshals and positions the tank to ensure safety and optimal performance of the aircraft during flight.
"We make sure there is enough forward, aft, vertical and lateral restraint so the tank will not move in flight," said Tech. Sgt. John Woodard, 817th EAS Det 1 loadmaster.
To keep the tanks in place, the loadmasters use multiple 25K-rated chains, tie-down mechanisms and rings on the floor of the cargo compartment.
"Once the chains are in place, we have to calculate the restraint of each chain to make sure we have enough restraint to meet the forces of 3Gs forward, 1.5Gs aft, 2Gs vertical and 1.5Gs lateral movement," Sergeant Woodard said. "We calculate for each direction to ensure restraint is met for all directions and if more chains are needed, we add them."
"It has been an awesome deployment for us," said Maj. James Hall, 817 EAS Det. 1 commander. "We have had the opportunity to haul stuff for just about every member of the International Security Assistance Forces. The Dutch, Romanians and now the Canadians have had major moves since we have been deployed. It is a great experience working with the militaries from all over the world, especially when it is carrying something as cool as tanks for our great neighbors from up North."