Semi-prepared assault landings: 621 CRG enable aircraft operations

  • Published
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

Between April 25-26, ten 621st Contingency Response Group team members facilitated semi-prepared assault landings for five Total Force C-130 Hercules aircraft from Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, Delaware and Arkansas, at Fort A.P. Hill in Bowling Green, Virginia. 

A semi-prepared assault landing is when aircraft utilize an unpaved airfield with typically shorter and narrower runways than traditional airfields.  These types of airfields provide an austere environment for aircraft to operate from, whether in contingency operations or humanitarian and disaster response situations.

This semi-prepared assault landing exercise provided vital upgrade and proficiency training for the 621st CRG and participating aircrew members. 

“We’re a small team encompassing a wide range of Air Force specialty codes,” said Capt. Glenn Grecia, 621st CRG civil engineer and airfield survey team chief.

The team, led by Grecia, was comprised of multiple AFSCs, which included: civil engineers, airfield operators, aerial porters, security forces defenders and aircraft maintainers. 

“The CRG is a unique unit, our Airmen commonly work in areas outside of their own craft, and we are a model of what a Multi-Capable Airman looks like to the U.S. Air Force,” said Grecia.

Grecia went on to explain that Multi-Capable Airmen are Airmen who are able to assist and help out in areas outside of their main profession and expertise. For example, while engineers will perform pavement evaluations, they can also help with advising aircrew on the radio when it’s safe to land. While security forces defenders primarily provide security to military service members and assets, they can also help onload cargo when called upon. 

On the ground, the CRG provided landing zone safety officer capabilities. Additionally, the CRG also provided non-standard rolling stock cargo, enabling the C-130 loadmasters to perform various cargo offload methods, and on/offload tactical vehicles. 

“Over time, repeated aircraft passes will cause impact damage to the airfield surface, such as ruts and rolling resistant material,” Grecia said.  “It’s on the LZSO teams to identify those problems while also advising aircrew and coordinating LZ maintenance. Engineers play a very important role in airfield operations, especially semi-prepared airfields, which provide a unique opportunity for us to be hands-on and have immediate and tangible impacts to aircraft operations.” 

Engineers perform a critical function on the landing zone safety organization team: they conduct dynamic cone penetrometer tests on the airfield surface to ensure there is adequate weight bearing capacity to support aircraft traffic. Furthermore, they also perform continuous inspections of the surface condition to ensure there are not any negative impacts to operations. 

Additionally, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, 560th RED HORSE Squadron and 201st RED HORSE Squadron provided engineers to observe the semi-prepared assault landings and the damage the aircraft caused to the surface. 

“Semi-prepared airfield surfaces require constant maintenance to stay operational,” Grecia emphasized. “As we start shifting our focus to other areas of responsibility that may not have traditional airfields with paved runways, exposing the Total Force engineer community to these types of environments is absolutely crucial for winning the fights of the future.”