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317th AW Completes First C-130J Max Endurance Operation From Texas to Guam

Flying from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas all the way to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the 317th Airlift Wing set a new record with the C-130J Super Hercules!

7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs ~ The 317th Airlift Wing achieved a significant milestone on April 20, 2024, by becoming the first unit in Air Mobility Command's history to complete a C-130J Max Endurance Operation (MEO) equipped with external fuel tanks. This operation, dubbed Hazard Leap, highlighted the wing's extended range capabilities and established a new standard in operational endurance. 

During the operation, one C-130J Super Hercules from the 40th Airlift Squadron embarked on a remarkable 26-hour and 33-minute single-aircraft mission to Andersen AFB, Guam, with only one fuel stop in Hawaii, demonstrating the C-130J’s ability to operate for extended periods without stopping.  

The MEO from Dyess to Guam showcased the wing's ability to rapidly deploy into the Indo-Pacific Area of Responsibility and be ready to immediately conduct any follow-on missions. 

To accomplish the mission, the team split into two fully augmented crews. Capt. Anna Santori, a pilot from the 40th Airlift Squadron and Hazard Leap crew, provided insights into the benefits of the extended range. She explained, 'The external tanks have new capabilities for us, allowing us to fly farther without refueling. It gives us about 17,000 pounds of fuel, which translates to roughly four extra hours of flying.'

In May 2023, the 317th Airlift Wing became the first C-130J unit in Air Mobility Command to experiment with external fuel tanks. The integration of external fuel tanks not only enhances the Wing's ability to reach remote locations in a single hop but also provides the flexibility to carry extra fuel to offload for the joint force in austere environments. 

Airmen from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas pose for a group photo after successfully completing a Max Endurance Operation at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, April 20, 2024. This operation, dubbed Hazard Leap, highlighted the wing's extended range capabilities and established a new standard in operational endurance. | Photo by 2nd Lt. Cyan Brown, 7th Bomb Wing

The purpose of the MEO, as Santori described, is to fly as far as possible with the external tanks, refuel only once, minimizing ground time and maximizing range. The preparation involved careful planning of the flight route, analyzing wind patterns, and devising contingency plans for unforeseen circumstances such as thunderstorms or modified flight paths. 

Reflecting on the significance of completing Hazard Leap, Capt. Santori emphasized its implications moving forward. 'Knowing that we have the capability to rapidly deploy and reach distant theaters within a shorter time frame, expands the expectation of C-130s,' she stated.  

'The successful completion of Hazard Leap is a testament to our team's dedication and the remarkable capabilities of the C-130J Super Hercules,' said Maj. Alex Leach, Mission Commander and 40th AS assistant director of operations. 'This operation set a new standard for our squadron and this airframe; it serves as a stepping-stone for future missions.' 

A U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 40th Airlift Squadron takes off from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, in support of a Maximum Endurance Operation to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, April 18, 2024. During the operation, one C-130J Super Hercules equipped with external fuel tanks embarked on a remarkable 26-hour single-aircraft mission, validating the aircraft's extended range capabilities but also showcasing the multi-day mission generation capabilities of the squadron. | Photo by Senior Airman Leon Redfern, 7th Bomb Wing

Building on the success of Hazard Leap, the 317th AW is now preparing for Exercise Hazard Spear, scheduled to run until May 4, 2024. This exercise is set to be a pivotal training event for the Wing, with a focus on declaring Initial Operational Capability for multiple Accelerated Mission Sets in the Indo-Pacific region and validating its ability to rapidly integrate with the joint force. 

In tandem with HAZARD SPEAR, the 317th AW will integrate with the 4th Marines in Guam and support Marine Aircraft Group 24 and MWSS-174 during Exercise BALIKATAN 2024 in the Philippines. This collaboration underscores the Wing's commitment to strengthening interoperability with allied and partner forces in the region. 

As the 317th Airlift Wing prepares for Hazard Spear, the Maximum Endurance Operation showcases the vital role of continued innovation and excellence, bolstering regional operations and demonstrating readiness in the Indo-Pacific region." ~ 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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