With communities along the Missouri river threatened by floodwaters, Air National Guardsmen from Iowa’s 185th Air Refueling Wing converted their base in Sioux City to support Army National Guard helicopter operations. Several of the unit’s KC-135s are currently deployed, freeing space and facilities at Col. Bud Day Field. “We were working 16- to 18-hour days getting set up,” said TSgt. David Henson, a 185th ARW crew chief. Hosting four UH-60 Black Hawks from Iowa and Minnesota and a CH-47 Chinook deployed from Illinois required establishing hover and refueling areas, as well as helicopter-specific maintenance and logistics structures. Airmen continue to support operations, “hot-refueling” the helicopters while their engines are running in order to limit ground time between sorties. The Army helicopters are primarily engaged patrolling miles of dykes, airlifting sand bags, and standing by to evacuate flood victims. (Sioux City report by SSgt. Rich Murphy)
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.