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First C-5 arrives at Balad

BALAD SOUTHEAST AIRFIELD, Iraq (AFPN) -- The first C-5 Galaxy arrived here Nov. 12, from Dover Air Force Base, Del., increasing the Air Force presence at the Army's Logistical Support Area. A 14-person crew and about 21 truckloads of war materiel were on board the aircraft.

"This event is a significant milestone in support of the global war on terrorism and continuing joint operations in this region," said Col. Frank Padilla, commander of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing’s Detachment 1.

“The more cargo (the Air Force) can bring in using aircraft can exponentially reduce the amount of vehicle convoys required from Baghdad International Airport, to transport much needed cargo into and out of here," Padilla said.

The routes used to convoy cargo on the roads to Balad are dangerous. Fewer Army trucks on the road translates to potentially more American lives saved.

No other aircraft in the Air Force inventory has the 270,000-pound cargo-carrying capacity of the C-5; it can carry twice as much as the next largest jet in the Air Force inventory. The C-5 can carry fully equipped combat-ready military units to any point in the world on short notice, and then provide field support required to help sustain the force, officials said. As primarily a strategic airlifter, it is not normally used in a tactical environment; however, when used in-theater, it can quickly relieve cargo backlogs, and provide critically needed airlift for missions like unit redeployments or troop rotations.

There are also challenges associated with bringing the C-5 into remote airfields like Balad, officials said. The C-5 requires a longer runway and more parking space than other aircraft designed for use in remote locations and tactical operations, like the C-130 Hercules.

Soldiers, realizing the full implications of the C-5's arrival, said they were just as excited as the airmen as the aircraft taxied to the ramp.

"This event was tremendously important to all of us here," Padilla said.

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