Jun 03, 2009 News
Some 20 airmen from the United States Air Force Southern Command arrived in Guyana last Sunday aboard a United States (US) Air Force C-130 J Hercules Plane with the aim of exchanging information and ideas with those within the local Air Corps.
The fascinating aircraft landed at the Guyana Defence Force Air Corps Headquarters and was on display yesterday to media practitioners and aeronautical students being trained locally.
Offering his knowledge of the air vehicle, Sergeant Paul Mantalvo, during a guided tour, disclosed that it has the capabilities carry some of the biggest things when compared to some other planes in its league.
“You can fit a small-sized tank on here or you can fit a truck on here. We could get about three humvees (Humers) in here (at one time). Through its aft loading ramp and door the plane can accommodate a wide variety of oversized cargo including everything from utility helicopters and six-wheeled armoured vehicles to standard palletized cargo and military personnel.
In an aerial delivery role, it can airdrop loads of up to 42,000 pounds or use its high-flotation landing gear to land and deliver cargo on rough, dirt strips.
Sergeant Mantalvo said that the plane is an asset to the Air Force as it is able to “pretty much do it all.” “They do air drops or high-altitude drops for skydivers, they do paratrooping, you name it they do it even do aerial re-fueling and weather reconnaissance for like hurricanes, they go to Antartica…they do it all.”
He said that the C-130J has the potential to go for 40,000 to 60,000 hours. Some of the older models have lasted for over forty years, he said. These planes primarily perform the tactical portion of airlift missions and they are capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and are the prime transport for air dropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.
The arrival of the Air Force team here represents the second iteration of the US Air Force Programme “Operation Southern Partner” which has been introduced in seven Caribbean and Latin American nations.
A total of about 60 airmen have been dispatched to Guyana, Barbados, St Lucia, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Belize as part of the exchange effort, said Lieutenant Lauren Wright.
“We got here on Sunday evening and we are staying here for about a week and basically what we have is about 20 airmen with various specialities. They have travelled here to exchange experience and ideas with this partner nation (Guyana), Lieutenant Wright noted.
She said that some of the exchange information is based on integrated defence and how to protect assets whether airplane or the fuel.
“The exchange will see them getting information about safety of aircraft on the ground and flying; medical first responder if there is a mass casualty; how to respond and how do you determine who gets care when.” One of the organisers of the trip, Lieutenant Robert Weaver, said it is his first time in Guyana even as he pointed out that his experience here has so far been very encouraging.
Lieutenant Weaver said that he has been the involved in Flight Safety for the past 15 years and was able to share a wealth of his knowledge with engineers at the local aeronautical schools.
Kevin Walston, Public Affairs Officer, emphasised that while the American officers have much to share they also expect to learn from the operations.
This is the US coming to see how the people in Guyana do medical procedures, how they fly their aircraft and we are exchanging ideas and trying to learn from each other. The team will also visit a number of schools during their visit.
They are expected to leave Guyana at the end of this week and will travel to Trinidad. This phase of the programme is slated to be completed on the June 14.
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