Members of the 317th Airlift Group at Dyess AFB, Tex., flew the largest-ever formation of C-130J transports—20 airplanes—during Joint Operational Access Exercise 13-03 at Pope Field, N.C., according to a Pope release. “During the exercise, the 317th AG set a world record for the largest C-130J formation,” said Maj. Josh Leibel, a group member, in the July 2 release. “Just as impressive as the 20-ship formation, our aircrew delivered 2,426 paratroopers and more than 140 tons of equipment to support the Army’s training,” he said. JOAX took place over 12 days at the end of June. During the Air Force-Army exercise, Dyess’ 20 C-130Js and 87 aircrew members delivered soldiers and their equipment to multiple drop zones, according to the release. “This training is very important,” said SrA. Jamie Richardson-Granger, a 317th AG loadmaster. “We actually get to see more of the real-world equipment we would drop operationally, things that aren’t normally available to us at home station.” At this time last year, the largest C-130J formation flight involved 16 airplanes. (Pope report by A1C Damon Kasberg)
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.