USAF and US Army at MFO Mission in Egypt
US Air Force C-17 delivered US Army UH-60 Black Hawk to an old Israeli airstrip in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt now used by the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO)
US Air Force, August 20, 2014 - EL GORAH, Egypt by Army Sgt Thomas Duval, Task Force Sinai - Weighing more than 17,000 pounds the a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, when not being carried by its own rotors, is not the easiest piece of Army equipment to move from one point to another.
So what happens when one of these military chariots becomes non-mission capable in the desert and needs advanced maintenance?
When faced with this exact challenge, U.S. Army Soldiers of from Aviation Company, 1st Support Battalion, Task Force Sinai, teamed up with Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing Squadron, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WashWashington., to find the answer.
Their solution, when written on paper was simple; load the UH-60 into the belly of a C17 Globemaster III and transport back to Germany for maintenance. Despite its simplicity, on paper the planning and coordination to accomplish the mission was much more difficult.
“There was a lot of preparation work put in from all the different contingents from the security forces through the support battalion and everyone came together throughout the force to make this happen with very few problems throughout the process,” said U.S. Army Army Maj. Kenneth Davis, the commander of Aviation Company.
Lt. Col. Aaron Hardy, the commander of 1st Support Battalion echoed Davis’ sentiment about the planning process and took time to highlight what made thishighlighted what made the mission unlike any other airlift before it.
“There are fourteen contingents that make up the (Multinational Force and Observers) MFO and I can honestly tell you that almost all of them participate in some way to help get this done,” said Hardy said. “It was one team effort.”
Despite the different moving parts everyone’s hard work and planning came to fruition Aug. 19, as the Airmen of 62nd Airlift Wing flew approximately 1,700 nautical miles to come to the aid of their Army battle buddies.
“The Airmen were very happy to help us get the Blackhawk back to Germany for repairs so we can continue on with our mission,” said Davis said. “Without the Air Force’s support to backhaul this UH-60 it would sit on the ground here and be non-mission capable and we wouldn’t be able to use it to support Task Force Sinai and the Multinational Force and Observers.”
Landing on a former Israeli airstrip at the MFO’s North Camp in Egypt and guarded by the watchful eye of Colombian security forces and Canadian air operations team, the massive C-17 landed in the Sinai Peninsula. shortly after 1 p.m.
After a brief greeting, Soldiers and Airmen began unloading supplies. Once the belly of the Globemaster was emptied they began the precision loading of the UH-60. Working as one team with one goal they were able to secure the Blackhawk in less than one hour.
“This was a total team effort. … It wasn’t ‘Hhere you go Army load this,’ or ‘Air Force load it,’,” said Hardy said. “Everyone wanted to get the mission done … from the time they landed they wanted to support us and we wanted to support them.”
Once loaded, the Airmen transported the helicopter aircraft to Germany where it is scheduled to undergo advanced maintenance before returning to the desert. The process may take weeks or months, but Davis said the maintenance is necessary, as his rotary-wing aircrafts act as a life-line to the MFO and its mission.
“Everything went as expected if not better than expected,” Hardy said. “We had some hardworking and hard charging Soldiers and Airmen who came together and got the mission done.”
The MFO’s UH-60 Black Hawks play a vital role in accomplishing the organizations mission to observe, verify and report compliance of the Egypt-Israeli peace treaty. The mission of the MFO has been recognized as one of the longest Peacekeeping operations in history, a history that now includes U.S. Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing.