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C-130 with rich heritage arrives to support 362nd, 363rd

MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard

A California Air National Guard MC-130P Combat Shadow lands after a more than four-hour flight from Moffett Federal Field, Calif., to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. The aircraft will be converted from its search and rescue mission to one that will train crew chief and armament apprentice Airmen in the 362nd and 363rd Training squadrons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Robert McIlrath)

MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard

An MC-130P Combat Shadow from the 129th Rescue Wing at Moffett Federal Field, Calif., taxis to Bldg. 1360 at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. The aircraft, which will be used as a ground instructional training aircraft by the 362nd and 363rd Training squadrons, has served in a search and rescue role in most recent years, but also as part of a program in which it snagged film canisters jettisoned from satellites that were re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Robert McIlrath)

MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard

The crew of this MC-130P Combat Shadow take a photo following it's final flight from Moffett Federal Field, Calif., to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. The California Air National Guard has retired the aircraft, and Sheppard acquired it to convert into a crew chief and armament apprentice trainer. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

Sheppard Air Force Base

A Lockheed MC-130P Combat Shadow prepares to land at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. This particular MC-130 has been flown all the way from Moffett Federal Airfield, Calif., to Sheppard, where It will be used as a trainer aircraft for the 362nd and 363rd Training squadrons for future crew chief and armament Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

Sheppard Air Force Base

A Lockheed MC-130P Combat Shadow prepares to land at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. This particular MC-130 has been in service since 1975. The aircraft's days of flying rescue missions and snagging film canisters jettisoned from satellites are over now though. Now it will be used as a tool for future crew chief and armament Airmen to hone their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard

Two T-38C Talons from the 80th Flying Training Wing land as a California Air National Guard MC-130P Combat Shadow taxis to the apron at Bldg. 1360 at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. The aircraft was brought to Sheppard to serve as a special missions armament apprentice trainer at the 363rd Training Squadron for loading GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb systems, a training deficiency identified in 2016. The MC-130 will also be used to train crew chief apprentices at the 362nd TRS. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Robert McIlrath)

MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard

An MC-130P Combat Shadow taxis to a spot on the apron at Bldg. 1360 where it will change ownership from the California Air National Guard to the 982nd Maintenance Squadron at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. The aircraft will be converted from a search and rescue-oriented aircraft to a ground instructional training aircraft for the 362nd and 363rd Training squadrons for the duel purpose of training crew chiefs as well as armament Airmen. The aircraft's long history includes time in the '60s and '70s with the 6594th Test Group, where it was used to snag film canisters jettisoned from satellites and re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard

A California Air National Guard MC-130P Combat Shadow rests on an apron after a more than four-hour flight from Moffett Federal Field, Calif., to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. The retiring aircraft was acquired by the 82nd Training Wing to convert to a ground instructional training aircraft, which will be used to training crew chiefs in the 362nd Training Squadron and armament Airmen in the 363rd TRS. The aircraft's lineage dates back to the Vietnam War era. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard

California Air National Guard pilot Col. Fred Foote, with the 129th Operations Group at Moffett Federal Field, Calif., talks about the history and capability of the MC-130P Combat Shadow he is sitting in, which he and a crew also flew to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. The aircraft is beign retired from service in the CANG and will be converted to a ground instructional training aircraft by the 982nd Maintenance Squadron at Sheppard AFB to be used for crew chief training in the 362nd Training Squadron and armament training in the 363rd TRS. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard
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First Lt. Daphne Caballero, 982nd Maintenance Squadron director of operations, takes a look inside a former California Air National Guard MC-130P Combat Shadow at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. The 982nd MXS will soon begin the process of converting the aircraft to a ground instructional training aircraft that will be used to train crew chiefs in the 362nd Training Squadron as well as armament Airmen in the 363rd TRS. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard
Two T-38C Talons from the 80th Flying Training Wing land as a California Air National Guard MC-130P Combat Shadow taxis to the apron at Bldg. 1360 at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. The aircraft was brought to Sheppard to serve as a special missions armament apprentice trainer at the 363rd Training Squadron for loading GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb systems, a training deficiency identified in 2016. The MC-130 will also be used to train crew chief apprentices at the 362nd TRS. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Robert McIlrath)
MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard
MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard
Two T-38C Talons from the 80th Flying Training Wing land as a California Air National Guard MC-130P Combat Shadow taxis to the apron at Bldg. 1360 at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. The aircraft was brought to Sheppard to serve as a special missions armament apprentice trainer at the 363rd Training Squadron for loading GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb systems, a training deficiency identified in 2016. The MC-130 will also be used to train crew chief apprentices at the 362nd TRS. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Robert McIlrath)
Photo By: Senior Airman Robert McIlrath
VIRIN: 180321-F-ZC626-0176
SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – The phrase “one team, one fight” can often be heard at commanders calls or awards ceremonies all across the Air Force, but Sheppard put that phrase into action when it obtained its newest trainer aircraft.

An MC-130P Combat Shadow out of Moffett Federal Field, California, took its final flight to Sheppard AFB, where it will be used as a trainer aircraft for future generations of crew chief and armament Airmen.

“There is a new Air Force Special Operations Command training requirement and this helps us fulfill that,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Thorp, 363rd Training Squadron commander. “It’s a unique training requirement and this helps us ensure there is not a training deficiency. We wouldn’t be able to do it without this aircraft.”

Rex Coots, 363rd TRS armament training manager, said armament apprentice special missions trainees will be able to perform actual hands-on tasks, which up to this time could only be accomplished through lectures and videos. What task is that? Loading bomb racks on to the wings of the aircraft and then GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb systems.

“So now every class that attends the special missions course will be receiving 24 hours of specific training related to the AC-130 loading and unloading operations,” he said. “This prevents sending trainees to the field that aren’t trained on related tasks.”

Coots said the AFSOC armament career field manager identified the training deficiency during meeting in 2016, at which time the 363rd TRS and the 982nd Maintenance Squadron began working on a solution. The answer was the 52-year-old aircraft that arrived at Sheppard AFB, which will replace an aging trainer aircraft and will be co-utilized between two different training squadrons to reduce the overall cost.

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New Life, New Mission

“We have a memorandum of agreement between the 363rd Training Squadron and the 362nd Training Squadron that will allow co-utilization of the aircraft,” Coots said. “Not only will it be used for the armament systems course but also for the aircraft crew chiefs course.”

It is estimated that the aircraft can be put to use as a trainer in less than a week. Coots said course instructors have been given the go-ahead to begin the stages of placing pylons on the C-130’s wings. He said they are hopeful that the first group of special missions Airmen will be able to complete the three-day section of training the first week of April.

Sheppard Air Force Base
A Lockheed MC-130P Combat Shadow prepares to land at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. This particular MC-130 has been in service since 1975. The aircraft's days of flying rescue missions and snagging film canisters jettisoned from satellites are over now though. Now it will be used as a tool for future crew chief and armament Airmen to hone their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)
Sheppard Air Force Base
MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard
A Lockheed MC-130P Combat Shadow prepares to land at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. This particular MC-130 has been in service since 1975. The aircraft's days of flying rescue missions and snagging film canisters jettisoned from satellites are over now though. Now it will be used as a tool for future crew chief and armament Airmen to hone their skills. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)
Photo By: Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio
VIRIN: 180321-F-YT646-0031
The process for getting this aircraft here was no small feat, as it took the cooperative efforts of 982nd MXS, 82nd Training Group along with the 363rd and 362nd TRS’s.

“The 982nd MXS attended the Utilization and Training Workshop and assisted with three courses of action,” Coots said. “They were to modify the existing C-130 fleet to accept wing weapons pylons, build a wing weapons pylon trainer and to request a C-130 with the capability to install wing weapons pylons.”

Coots said modifying an existing ground instructional training aircraft to meet training requirements would have cost well over $100,000, and building a wing weapons pylon trainer would really meet the needs of the task.

Efforts were then focused on finding aircraft in the Air Force inventory that fit what they were looking for. Two aircraft were located – one on each coast – and it was the one at Moffett Federal Field that could be prepped and flown to Sheppard in the shortest amount of time.

Scott Turner, 982nd MXS aircraft vehicle distribution officer, played an important role in acquiring the new trainer.

“When a training squadron has a need for a training aircraft, I work closely with the training managers and group leadership as they develop the initial request,” he said. “I then work and coordinate with Air Education Training Command, Headquarters Air Force and the Aircraft Program Office as assets become available, such as retiring aircraft.

“Once all the paperwork is complete, we then coordinate directly with the losing organization or base for the physical transfer or last flight.”

Some of the conflicts this aircraft has served in date all the way back to Vietnam and the Cold War.

MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard
The crew of this MC-130P Combat Shadow take a photo following it's final flight from Moffett Federal Field, Calif., to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. The California Air National Guard has retired the aircraft, and Sheppard acquired it to convert into a crew chief and armament apprentice trainer. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)
MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard
MC-130P Combat Shadow arrives at Sheppard
The crew of this MC-130P Combat Shadow take a photo following it's final flight from Moffett Federal Field, Calif., to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 21, 2018. The California Air National Guard has retired the aircraft, and Sheppard acquired it to convert into a crew chief and armament apprentice trainer. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)
Photo By: John Ingle
VIRIN: 180321-F-TH920-0496
“It was part of a program called ‘Catch a Falling Star,’ which took place during the ‘60s and ‘70s,” Coots said. “This aircraft would catch (film) canisters dropped by satellites that took pictures of the world.”

About the size of a garbage can, these canisters were among the first objects sent into space that were designed to survive re-entry. Upon entering the ionosphere, they could resemble a shooting, or falling star. Thus the motto “to catch a falling star,” Coots mentioned.

MC-130s assigned to the 6594th Test Group would catch the jettisoned canisters over the Pacific Ocean. When not catching canisters, the aircraft would be used in search and rescue missions.

Since its birth in 1966, this C-130 has served the U.S. in many different commands around the world.

“It served in Vietnam with the Air Force Special Operations Command and it was also in the Air Combat Command in 1994,” said Col. Fred Foote, 130th Rescue Squadron pilot for the California Air National Guard. “Here at Sheppard it will be used for training for many years.”

Foote said he is happy that it will continue to be used in the Air Force.