Aircrew from Air Force Reserve Command’s 908th Airlift Wing in Montgomery, Ala., proved that a C-130 could transport and orient an Army High Mobility Artillery Rocket System while airborne. Linking to the aircraft’s Joint Precision Air Drop System for GPS data, these airmen helped show that it is possible to initialize the HIMARS fire control system in flight, minimizing the rocket launcher’s set-up time on the ground. This “hot panel” capability allows strikes against time-sensitive targets and reduces system vulnerability, said Army Maj. Michael Fitzgerald of the HIMARS program. “The Air Force’s ability to transport equipment and personnel around the battlefield and to locations that wheeled transport cannot go is imperative to deliver ground-based firepower in a timely manner,” added Fitzgerald. Pending evaluation of flight data, this testing will culminate in a live-fire demonstration at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. (Maxwell report by Gene Hughes)
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.