In April and August 2018, the Ecuadorean and Peruvian air forces carried out two Hercules transport aircraft crew exchange exercises. The exchanges took place in April at Cotopaxi Air Base in Latacunga, a town in central Ecuador, and in August at Callao Air Base in Lima, Peru.
The objective of the exercises was to improve both institutions’ operational capabilities in the use of the Hercules aircraft. Participants exchanged experiences to apply what was learned in their respective institution, and become multiplying forces.
“It’s good to know what happened to others, so it won’t happen to us,” said Ecuadorean Air Force (FAE, in Spanish) Captain Christian Terán, who took part in the August exchange. “The operational exchange makes us both grow [and see] what we do and what they do.”
The Peruvian delegation visited Ecuador to learn how their Ecuadorean counterparts used the Hercules aircraft, April 23rd-27th. Service members of the Peruvian Air Force (FAP, in Spanish) joined FAE’s 1111th Heavy Transport Squadron, which operates C-130 Hercules and L-100-30 Hercules.
“I was very interested in the air systems and how they teach their courses, train their pilots, and apply Crew Resource Management,” FAP Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Begazo told Diálogo. “In Ecuador I learned about the references, capabilities, and how they organize the cargo based on its type; how they do it, how they get help, [and] the equipment they use. They are very methodical.”
During a visit to Callao Air Base August 19th-22nd, the Ecuadorean delegation had a similar experience. Ecuadorean participants joined the Eighth Air Wing, the FAP transport unit that operates L-100-20 Hercules aircraft. During their visit, Ecuadorean service members took part in theoretical instruction on the ground with their Peruvian counterparts, reviewing the aircraft systems and load capacity, as well as performance, maximum takeoff weight, and fuel consumption, among other features.
We analyzed FAP’s planning, especially emergency procedures,” FAE Captain Daniel Valencia told Diálogo. “There are slight differences from our [way of doing it], but we adopted them because they will help and complement us; we seek to take the best of each.”
Ecuadorean service members also participated in air exercises and post-flight briefings, and learned about training and maintenance procedures of FAP aircraft.
Main transport aircraft
The Hercules is a medium-heavy transport aircraft made by U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin. With four turbo-prop engines, the aircraft is the main airlifter of many air forces in the world, and is used for military and humanitarian assistance operations. Its load capacity of more than 23,000 kilograms makes the aircraft ideal to transport personnel and cargo to remote areas or provide disaster relief.
Several variants of the Hercules aircraft with specific characteristics exist. Crews who can familiarize themselves with different models enhance their capabilities, said FAP Lieutenant Colonel Elard Granda Alviar, who took part in several regional exchanges. Each region’s different geographic and climate characteristics, he added, influence aircraft performance and each air force’s operational competencies.
Lt. Col. Granda knows first-hand about the Hercules’ performance in different environments. He flew a Hercules at Vice-Commodore Marambio Air Base in the Argentine Antarctica, where temperatures can drop as low as -40 °C. The experience taught him a lesson about the aircraft’s capacity in extreme weather conditions and the type of airstrips used in this environment. “I’ve learned that the aircraft is designed to be used under any condition,” Lt. Col. Granda told Diálogo.
For his part, Lt. Col. Begazo highlighted the recent visit to Ecuador. “In addition to exchanging technical experiences and tapping their capabilities, we get to know the field,” he said. “If anything were to happen in Latacunga, having been there, we would know what to consider and how much load we can take in.”
Exchanges between Peru and Ecuador were agreed upon at the 11th Chiefs of General Staff meeting between FAP and FAE, held June 26, 2017. These experience exchanges also fall within the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces to strengthen regional members’ capabilities.
The exercises also contribute to improving cooperation and trust between the armed forces of countries in the region. “These exchanges help us strengthen bonds of friendship,” Capt. Valencia said. “If we can help them, we will do it gladly, just like they would.”
The Peruvian and Ecuadorean delegations expect to continue exchanging experiences in combined events. “These exchanges should evolve gradually,” Capt. Valencia said. “Perhaps we’ll be able to share academic and operational courses. We will definitely have good results from these exchanges.”