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C-130 with rich heritage enhances training and readiness

Sheppard AFB

363rd Training Squadron armament apprentice course students prepare to load a bomb at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Aug. 15, 2018. The training bombs used at Sheppard are not the exact same as live bombs that will be used at their operational bases, but it helps condition the trainee's minds getting more comfortable around the idea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

Sheppard AFB

363rd Training Squadron armament apprentice course students prepare to load a bomb onto the new MC-130 Combat Shadow trainer jet at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Aug. 15, 2018. This MC-130 has a distinct paint job that distinguishes itself from the othe C-130 trainers at Sheppard. This C-130 is the only one that actually allows the armament students to practice loading the BRU-61 bomb rack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

Sheppard AFB

From left, Airman Jordan Stout, Airman 1st Class Israel Cisneros and Airman Scott Rodriguez, 363rd Training Squadron armament apprentice course students, secure a bomb cradle to a MHU-83 bomb loader at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, August 15, 2018. The MHU-83 is able to carry 7,000 pounds and is equipped with the side wheels to make slight adjustments when lifting the bomb to the bomb rack. It is very important to align the bomb correctly so it takes a very skilled driver and using the side wheels for slight adjustments is a big help. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

An instructor points to a specific spot where the bomb rack will connect to the cradle. The sun silhouettes them.

363rd Training Squadron armament apprentice course students watch as their instructor explains where the bomb rack will connect to the cradle at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Aug. 15, 2018. This will be the last time the class will load training bombs at Sheppard. They are scheduled to graduate Aug. 17 and will move on to their respective bases for more in-depth training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

An Airman cuts wires on a bomb rack to set it up for a different kind of bomb.

Airman Scott Rodriguez, above, 363rd Training Squadron armament apprentice course student, works on a bomb rack as instructor Staff Sgt. Stephen Jervis watches at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Aug. 15, 2018. Bomb racks are set up differently depending on what bomb Airmen will load. Bomb racks are also equipped with little valves to ensure the bombs tip forward when dropped preventing bombs from hitting the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

Airmen stand on ladders to make sure the loading bombs are aligned correctly.

363rd Training Squadron armament apprentice course students load bombs at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, August 15, 2018. To ensure the bomb is correctly aligned two set of eyes are set up to see the horizontal and the vertical angle of the bomb rack. Each one communicating to the driver of the lift to make slight adjustments. In a usual operation there will only be about three Airmen working to load a bomb. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

Sheppard AFB

363rd Training Squadron armament apprentice course students pose for a photo at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Aug. 15, 2018. Since receiving the new MC-130 Combat Shadow in May, this is the third class to graduate with the extra training implemented. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

Sheppard AFB

The MC-130P Combat Shadow originally from Moffett Federal Field, California, now stands with other C-130s at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, Aug. 15, 2018. This particular MC-130 has seen combat in Vietnam, has been operational during the Cold War and was even tasked with catching falling sattellites once done taking pictures of Earth. Now it continues serving the Air Force as a training aircraft for certain courses at Sheppard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pedro Tenorio)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – In late March 2018, an MC-130P Combat Shadow out of Moffett Federal Field, California, took its final flight to Sheppard AFB, where it would continue its legacy of supporting the Air Force as a maintenance trainer for Airmen in Training.

This particular MC-130, which has been in combat in Vietnam, the Cold War and was even deployed to catch falling satellites, now serves as a part of the 82nd Training Wing’s Special Missions Aircraft Armament Apprentice Course and the C-130 Aerospace Maintenance Apprentice Course.

A new type of C-130 for the Airmen to train on and interact with is something that has greatly increased the effectiveness of training here.

“We didn’t have an aircraft to train on at all before we got it,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Jervis, 363­rd Training Squadron armament instructor. “[The students] love all the new hands-on and actually being able to see and feel everything they’ve been learning. [Before this], it was just showing videos and pictures from the field.”

Since being available for the classes since May 2018, Jervis said there has been a number of changes since then to the curriculum. Students going through the course are also benefiting.

“It gives us a unique opportunity to see a variant of the aircraft that you rarely see outside of rescue and special operations squadrons,” Jervis said. “It replaced outdated aircraft that the 362nd was using for training for their crew chief course, and added the ability for weapons load crew training. It also gives us the ability to load the BRU-61 bomb rack onto the left and right wings, simulating the AC-130W and AC-130J.”

This training has been a significant boost to overall readiness and capability. Originally, this certain training was not available to AiTs, who would get advanced training on the BRU-61 at other bases before being considered fully operational. But now, pipeline students will be more ready and more experienced even before getting to the advanced training.

“The flight chiefs have been very happy with the students coming in,” Jervis said. “Part of loading these bombs is getting on a 13-foot ladder, which doesn’t seem too bad. But out in Hurlburt and Cannon, a lot of Airmen have found it a little nerve racking when you add in 1,000-plus pounds worth of bombs, wind and loud noise. We’re able to identify those Airmen while they’re here, so the operational units can save valuable time and put them in a position that suites them.”

Since getting the new trainer, Jervis and others hope for more types of aircraft to train on, but understand the needs of the Air Force and will make do with what they have, training the next generation to the best of their abilities with the resources they have.

“Of course, I want as many of these things as possible,” Jervis said. “However, in my course, we cover all three AC-130 variants (AC-130U, AC-130W, AC-130J), so it wouldn’t be realistic to have three different airplanes here that are needed out in the fight. For the amount of things we can do with this plane now, and possible future modifications, I’m very happy with it.”