ROYAL NEW ZEALAND AIR FORCE BASE OHAKEA, New Zealand -- U.S. Air Force aircraft took off for their first mission during Exercise Southern Katipo, here, Oct. 20.
A U.S. Air Force C-130H assigned to the 133rd Airlift Wing Minnesota Air National Guard and a C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 176th AW at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, kicked off the exercise with multi-leg missions transporting personnel and cargo throughout New Zealand.
Southern Katipo is a biannual, multinational military training exercise conducted in New Zealand, designed to improve combat training, readiness and interoperability among allied and partner nations. U.S. Airmen participate with service members from New Zealand, Australia, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Brunei, Malaysia, Timor Leste, Canada, France and Britain.
"We're really excited to work with our partners from New Zealand and other countries," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Austin Tally, 517th Airlift Squadron lead exercise planner. "Every time we conduct exercises like this with our allies and partners, we both learn from each other and get better at working together in the future."
The U.S. Air Force aircraft will conduct air drops, cargo missions and troop movements on the south and north islands of New Zealand as part of the exercise. One of the unique preparations for the aircrew included familiarization flights with an air rider, a Royal New Zealand Air Force pilot who is assigned to instruct visiting aircrews on local the airspace procedures.
"Having air riders observe and advise us on local flight procedures and radio calls ensures that we can safely do the sorties and get the mission done," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Benjamin Daw, 133rd Airlift Wing Minnesota Air National Guard C-130H navigator. "This is a really unique experience to come here and practice our mission in a country we've never flown in before."