A C-17 transport carrying a two-person medical team successfully evacuated a 56-year-old man assigned to the National Science Foundation in Antarctica from the barren continent on Sept. 10 and brought him to Christchurch, New Zealand for treatment in a hospital. The man needed a cardiovascular evaluation and his high-risk status made a solo trip unadvisable from McMurdo Station, Antarctica, back to New Zealand, the Air Force said in a release yesterday. The C-17, from McChord AFB, Wash., is currently attached to Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica, which provides airlift and sea-transport capability to US scientific researchers on the frozen continent under the Pentagon’s Operation Deep Freeze. “This movement is really just one small part of the Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica mission, but it demonstrates how well our people are trained and how quickly we can respond when needed,” said Lt. Gen. Chip Utterback, the JTF-SFA commander and head of 13th Air Force. Operation Deep Freeze began its 2008-09 season earlier this month.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.