Four Hercules aircraft left Niagara Falls ARS, N.Y., on May 9 for a deployment to US Central Command, marking the first time since Desert Storm and the last time ever a four-ship of C-130s will fly away from the station for deployment. The 914th Airlift Wing is transitioning to the KC-135 Stratotanker refueling mission soon, according to a Niagara Falls press release. “It’s going to be a little difficult for me to say goodbye,” CMSgt. Mike Zimmerman, the 328th Aerial Port Squadron loadmaster superintendent said, calling it “the best aircraft” ever built. The deployed airmen will be part of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and are slated to return to New York in the fall.
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.