YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) --
For the first time, Yokota Air Base personnel conducted a C-130J Super Hercules assault landing on the Foxtrot taxiway March 26.
Foxtrot taxiway was originally used for the legacy C-130H models from 1991 to 2001. Since then, Yokota AB’s airlifters have used the permanently painted hard surface on the main runway.
The taxiway was brought out of retirement and repurposed for this exercise as a landing zone, or LZ, which is an area designated to land in lieu of a runway. Oftentimes, C-130s use LZs downrange to resupply front-line troops who may be in an area where a runway is not available or accessible.
This training is conducted to guarantee the airfield team is ready to perform skilled landings on short, narrow, crowded and even unmarked strips of land.
Aircraft do not land on a temporarily established runway by themselves and, because of this, the training is not just for the C-130J aircrew, but it is also for the entire team running operations on the flightline.
“It was really a group effort to make this exercise a success and it was great to see us all work so well together,” said 1st Lt. Aaron Church, 374th Operations Support Squadron airfield operations officer.
The 374th OSS Airfield Operations Flight encompasses air traffic controllers, airfield management Airmen, and radar and airfield weather systems technicians, who perform different essential skill-sets, but work as one to operate the airfield and airspace at Yokota AB.
“Measuring out and marking a LZ would normally be an airfield management task; and clearing a C-130 to land would be an ATC task,” Church said. “Here at Yokota (AB), the 374th OSS is training all three essential skill sets to be able do either task, if required.”
The shift in training methodology is in support of Pacific Air Forces’ Agile Combat Employment concept.
“PACAF has given us a basic concept of operations and a goal to make ACE a reality,” Church said. “We are developing how to train, equip our Airmen and operate from the ground up.”
The airfield operations flight is pioneering what it looks like to train for ACE by cross-training their career fields and enabling C-130J aircrews to be assault landing-capable.