Air Force joins big crowd at Little Rock

An RNZAF C-130H(NZ) Hercules conducts an air drop.

A C-130H(NZ) Hercules and support crew is en-route to join a large international contingent at Exercise Green Flag, being held from 5-16 April in the United States.

The 47-strong group from No. 40 Squadron are based mainly at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, from where they will conduct training to prepare them to deploy into an operational theatre, such as Afghanistan or Iraq.

“Exercises like Green Flag are an essential part of our build-up," says Detachment Commander Squadron Leader Melissa Axelrad. 

“The scale of the activity provides us with full-on training that ensures we are ready and confident to deploy when needed.”

The two crews and maintenance personnel will conduct air transport operations by day and night, while an air-load team will help provide the training loads for the RNZAF and other participating nations’ aircraft.

RNZAF personnel will be working alongside those from the United States Air Force and Army, as well as air force teams from France and Australia.

Wing Commander Richard Deihl, Commanding Officer of No. 40 Squadron, said the exercise was a great opportunity to benchmark or validate RNZAF crews, and thus the entire training pipeline, against partner nations.

“It provides a level of training and complexity that is difficult to replicate in New Zealand."

The exercise would provide them with exposure to operations as part of a large-scale coalition, while working away from home base in a medium-threat environment, he said.  Much of the flying would take place at Fort Polk, in Louisiana.