U.S. airmen exchanged experiences involving the Hercules C-130 aircraft with their Argentine counterparts in Buenos Aires province for 10 days. The exchange was conducted as part of the State Partnership Program (SPP) of the U.S. Department of Defense, on April 16-26, with the participation of the Georgia Air National Guard's 165th Airlift Wing and the Argentine (FAA, in Spanish) Air Force’s 1st Air Transport Group under the 1st Air Brigade and the 7th Air Brigade's Special Operations Group.
The objective of the exercise was to exchange knowledge about the use and maintenance of the Hercules C-130 aircraft, a military transport aircraft for troops, medical evacuation, and cargo. The exchange also strengthened cooperation between both air forces.
“We've been working side by side with our Argentine Air Force counterparts in Buenos Aires, Argentina,” the 165th Airlift Wing stated on its Facebook account. “The greatest part about our State Partnership Program with Argentina is the great people we get to work with along the way.”
FAA Colonel Ángel Rojas, commander of the 1st Air Transport Group, told Diálogo that the exercise took place in two phases at the 1st Air Brigade, based in El Palomar, and at the 6th Air Brigade in Tandil.
During the first phase, participants focused on the theoretical part and participated in informative sessions about state-of-the-art cabin technology, airdrop techniques, and approaches to landing on difficult runways, among other topics. Officers also updated aircraft maintenance capabilities, developed skills, and planned their flights to practice what they had learned.
During the hands-on portion, officers exchanged experiences about techniques, tactics, and operational procedures in day and night flights, using night-vision devices. They also practiced several types of tactical navigation, as well as airdrops from both forces’ Hercules C-130 aircraft, Col. Rojas said.
“This particular case allowed FAA's 1st Group to continue developing the planned capabilities within their aircraft's modernization program,” said Col. Rojas. “This update in procedures was beneficial to improve the capabilities of the C-130's modernized weapons system,” he added.
The Hercules C-130 has been used in the FAA for 50 years. For over half a century, the aircraft has contributed to exploring the Antarctic and supplying the country's settlements, and enabled medical evacuation, air reconnaissance, and in-flight refueling in several FAA missions in support of the nation or the region.
Friendship and opportunity
“Professionally speaking, the interaction was extremely productive, because it was about air crews and equipment that share standard operating procedures, allowing us to make better use of new technology,” said Col. Rojas. “As far as the human factor, interpersonal relationships continued to develop in the daily work environment, as many of the crew members know each other from previous shared activities within SPP.”
Aside from sharing with their counterparts, for some of the U.S. airmen the exercise also represented a unique opportunity to discover another culture and practice Spanish.
“I was very excited for the opportunity,” said U.S. Air National Guard Senior Airman John Kyall in an interview with the 165th Airlift Wing's press office. “Most of all, I wanted to experience the Argentine culture and meet new people.” Senior Airman Kyall, a technician specialized in hydraulic systems with three years in the National Guard, was part of the 59 members of the 165th Airlift Wing who traveled to Buenos Aires.
The FAA and the Georgia National Guard share experiences and benefit from a relationship of mutual support as part of the SPP since 2016. Since then, the Georgia National Guard has demonstrated diverse capabilities that help respond to the security needs of the Latin American country.
The initiative laid the foundation for a long-term, successful relationship by sharing experiences in emergency and disaster situations, such as natural disasters or humanitarian support, and strengthening cooperation and regional security.
“These opportunities are very important institutionally, since they contribute effectively to promoting mutual trust at tactical levels and in different operational scenarios,” Col. Rojas concluded.