The airmen maintaining USAF’s fleet of C-130 tactical airlifters operating in Southwest Asia are in a constant battle against the damage done by the dirt and gravel airstrips into which the Hercules aircraft fly to deliver troops and cargo. The gravel is chewing up tires, and the short strips mean the aircrews have to literally stand on their brakes and go into max reverse on the aircraft’s engines, which creates dust clouds that enter the engines, air conditioning system, and elsewhere. The airmen inspect every C-130—from front to back—every three days, according to TSgt. Dale Durham, a crew chief with the Texas Air National Guard’s 136th Airlift Wing, Fort Worth, Tex.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.