Maryland Air National Guard crews flying C-130J Hercules airlifters in Southwest Asia have quickly become immersed in wartime operations. Herc crews typically fly tactical approaches in to airfields in Afghanistan and Iraq, meaning they take off and land in as little time as possible. Maj. Julie Petrina, a Maryland ANG C-130J pilot, speaking at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in Washington Monday, explained that crews would start descents while still 20 miles out and would come straight in with approach speeds that would reach 300 knots. There is no spiraling over the bases, she explained, to minimize exposure to ground threats.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.