By Senior Airman Kaylee Clark
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Little Rock Air Force Base is the home of C-130 aircraft, aircrew training, and also the home away from home for many international students.
The 314th Airlift Wing’s “Center of Excellence” hosts students from all over the world to learn the C-130 and its mission inside and out.
That training mission doesn’t stop at the base gate. In a case such as Maj. Kevin Coughlin’s, 48th Airlift Squadron flight commander and instructor pilot, he traveled far from the “Home of the Herk” to train Israeli aircrew members beyond the initial training level.
Coughlin was the only pilot from Little Rock AFB selected for the training mission, and was joined by three pilots stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The four pilots gathered at Ramstein Air Base to conduct course preparation before heading to Nevatim Israeli Air Force Base for the true test.
The goal was to arm Israeli Air Force C-130J aircrews with the skills and knowledge required to employ the Coordinated Aircraft Positioning (CAP) system and Station Keeping Equipment (SKE) formation operation systems designed into their aircraft.
“The radar’s capability allows them to fly in formation without seeing other aircraft,” said Coughlin. “With the technology on the C-130J and the added navigator to the Israeli Air Force C-130J crew it is easy to stay in the confines of the designated training area.”
Once in country, the clock was ticking on the training program. Not only was the goal to get the IAF pilots’ knowledge broadened on the formation system, but the team was only given 11 days to complete the training.
The first two days of training involved classroom based instruction led by Coughlin and the three other instructor pilots. Additionally, after every lesson, the Israeli aircrew members were given a short quiz to ensure they understood the material presented in the lesson.
“It was very rewarding and humbling to see those guys excited to have us there,” said Coughlin. “During our first day there, the squadron commander said we want to be like you.”
As soon as the IAF pilots were up to speed, the training took to the air. Flying days started with mission planning with two sets of crews.
“They did most of the planning; we were there to answer questions and provide guidance on how the mission should flow,” said Coughlin.
After the briefings, two instructors flew with each of the two Israeli crews to execute the training sortie. As a standing instructor pilot on the flight deck, it was Coughlin’s job to observe the flight and provide input and answer any questions they had enroute.
Coughlin explained every mission could be a combat mission as the Israelis live and fly in a combat zone.
“Training at home station is very scripted. We simulate threats for the student, however we have actual airspace restrictions that we need to be cognizant of,” said Coughlin. “Training in Israel is much more restrictive given their location. The most challenging aspect of briefing and flying was they tended to speak in Hebrew when things got busy.”
After 11 days of briefings, training and flying with the advanced formation system the IAF is up to par with the CAP and SKE.
“It helped us learn,” said Coughlin. “Not only did we see their ability to fly SKE but also how they mission plan and brief. There was definitely learning on both ends.”