U.S. Air Force article and photos by Senior Airman Kaylee Clark, 19th Airlift Wing
Three base squadrons conducted the first-ever Extracted Container Delivery System (XCDS) airdrops during the Green Flag Little Rock exercise June 16, 2014.
Crews from the 34th Combat Training Squadron, 41st Airlift Squadron and 61st AS exercised techniques and tactics to employ combat airlift’s newest air delivery system during a capabilities demonstration at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana.
The XCDS bundles are engineered to allow the cargo loads to the exit the aircraft in a matter of seconds to reach ground forces faster and more accurately. Increased accuracy during airdrops means safer and efficient resupply on the battlefield. The XCDS is also safer for aircrews because it changes the angle and approach aircraft can use to deliver cargo.
The method of extraction is the biggest difference between the two delivery systems. Unlike the traditional Container Delivery System bundles, the speed an XCDS hurtles from an aircraft facilitates fast and accurate delivery while limiting ground forces exposure to enemy targeting.
Because of the quick delivery and tight dispersal pattern on a drop zone, ground forces can swiftly recover the loads.
“One of the essential parts of the C-130 combat airlift mission is to deliver supplies to coalition troops on the ground and to do it safely and accurately. The XCDS allows us to do this,” said Lt. Col. Steve Smith, 34th Combat Training Squadron commander. “Traditional CDS bundles leave the aircraft via gravity and their dispersal patterns are variable due to exit times and friction. XCDS bundles are pulled out of the aircraft with an extraction parachute and are banded together to reduce dispersion. This decreases the exposure to ground forces during the recovery of critical supplies. These airdrops were a first for Green Flag Little Rock and the Joint Readiness Training Center. The aircrews from the 41st and 61st Airlift Squadrons performed exceptionally well.”Green Flag Little Rock is a mobility air forces exercise that provides training for aircrews in support of Army exercises in Fort Polk, Louisiana, as part of the JRTC. This exercise teamed Little Rock aircrews with the Vermont National Guard’s 86th Mountain Division.
Tech. Sgt. Marcos Garcia, 41st Airlift Squadron instructor loadmaster, served dual purposes during the exercise, training and certifying a 61st AS loadmaster and also assisting with the airdrops.
“The exercise went very well,” said Garcia. “The Army was pleased with how close the XCDS landed to target so that the troops could get in, pick up the equipment and get out.”
It takes a time and technique to perform a successful XCDS airdrop, but the overall product is a great, effective system said Garcia.