Polish help USAFE Airmen with important JPADS drop

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Katrina Cheesman
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Airmen successfully completed the first Joint Precision Air Drop System, or JPADS, delivery in the U.S. European Command region during the bilateral theater security cooperation event, Aviation Detachment Rotation 14-1, Oct. 14-25.

U.S. forces were based at Powidz AB, home to the Polish Air Force's 33rd Air Transport Base, for the event.

JPADS, a precision-guided airdrop system, provides rapid, precise high-altitude delivery capabilities that do not rely on ground transportation.

"JPADS is vital to operations during both humanitarian and combat missions," said Maj. Matthew Spears, the commander of the U.S. Av-Det in Poland. "It ensures accurate delivery while providing aircraft with increased survivability."

The overall success of this first JPADS delivery in Europe is due to Poland's commitment to the Av-Det training rotations, and their understanding of the rotation training's importance to both air forces, Spears said.

During the precision air drop, both U.S. and Polish forces combined their efforts to achieve mission success. The Polish land forces helped clear and secure the range for the drop, and U.S. personnel on the ground provided drop zone control and clearance and recovered the bundle. Polish air force C-130E aircrew were onboard the U.S. Air Force C-130J Hercules to observe the delivery. The bundle, dropped on the Drawsko Pomorskie Range in northwestern Poland, landed within 25 meters of the desired point of impact.

"Because of range restrictions and lack of availability in other European locations, this is the first JPADS delivery in Europe,"Spears said. "It's through training events like this that U.S. and Poland continue to build partnership capacity."

Commander of the Polish air force's C-130 squadron, Lt. Col. Krzysztof Szymaniec, marked the drop as an excellent demonstration of the partnership between the U.S. and Polish air forces.

"I am very proud that Poland is the first to offer this capability to the U.S.," Szymaniec said.

U.S. members from the Av-Det, which falls under the 52nd Operations Group, 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, along with the 37th Airlift Squadron, of the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein AB, Germany, combined for several other training events during the two-week period, to include take-offs and landings on unimproved runways and air drops of equipment and supplies. Additionally, the combined units practiced air drops of equipment, supplies, and personnel which included both U.S. Army and Polish Land Force paratroopers.

"It's great being able to work with our Polish counterparts because they deal with some of the same issues we do," said Capt. Scott Vander Ploeg, the 37th AS Av-Det Rotation 14-1 mission commander. "It is nice to be able to help each other out with those issues."

"The rotations offer both air forces a unique opportunity," Szymaniec said.  "It provides our aircrew an opportunity to plan and fly missions together, even if our aircraft are different."

"The Av-Det, in close coordination with the Polish air force, is making a concerted effort to continue improving the combined training opportunities available to our air forces, be it increased partner capacity or added complexity in the training scenarios," Spears said. "The cooperation of the Polish armed forces and the airmanship and professionalism of the aircrew involved in the training greatly enhance these efforts."

Two more JPADS drops are planned during the final week of the aircraft rotation.

Four times a year, U.S. aircraft, service members and civilian contractors will rotate to the Av Det to foster bilateral defense ties, enhance regional security and increase interoperability as NATO allies through combined training exercises.